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National Athletics coach, ‘Marathon Karu’ killed

The LTTE broke its pledge not to target any sports event with yesterday’s direct attack on a marathon at Weliweriya, which claimed the lives of National Athletic Coach Lakshman de Alwis and Olympic runner K. A. Karunaratne. Among the dead and wounded were several men taking part in the marathon.

The LTTE, shortly before the SAF Games held in Colombo in August, 2006 assured it wouldn’t target SAG Games or any level of sports activity. This pledge was given by senior LTTE representative K. Papa against the backdrop of the assassination bid on Army Chief Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka on May 25, 2006.

In an interview over the phone with Divaina, Papa, who had been in charge of the group’s Sports Division had assured they wouldn’t target any international or local sports activity. He also dismissed assertion the LTTE would disrupt the August Games. He emphasized it wouldn’t be reasonable to blame the LTTE in the event some other organization had targeted the Games.

Lakshman de Alwis had been the schools’ 100m and 200m champion since 1958 before joining the SLAF. The highlight of his athletic carrier was the Asian Games in Jakarta in 1962, where he competed in the 200 m semi finals.

Karu had won the SAF marathon Gold in 1991 and 1993. He had been the only Sri Lankan to secure a fourth place at an Asian Games when he came fourth at the Beijing Games in 1990. He also represented the country at Olympics in Seoul (1988), Barcelona (1992) and several other international competitions.

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