Palitha insists on foreign expertise, overseas training to reverse athletics fortunes


by Reemus Fernando

Palitha Fernando, the president of the Sri Lanka Athletics Association reiterated his stance of obtaining foreign expertise for coaching and sending prospective athletes for overseas training with a view to win medals at international events as the SLAA unveiled its future plan ahead of a challenging year on Monday.

"We are planing to send some of our athletes for foreign training. We have earmarked few athletes who are ranked higher in the Asia region," said Fernando addressing media at a press conference to announce this year’s National Championship.

Despite the National Championship being held after several important regional and world athletics events this year it will be crucial for the highest ranked Sri Lanka athletes as the SLAA consider their performances to confirm the Athletics Pool for next year’s regional and world multi sports events.

"We have the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, Asian Junior Championships and the World Junior Championships in 2018. We have already formed pools for some of these events. They will be finalised and will be sent to the Sports Ministry after the National Championships. The National Championship is compulsory for all athletes," said Fernando.

Fernando said that twenty five male athletes and 11 female athletes have been picked to form the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games pools based on their rankings. They would be confirmed as poolists on their performances at the three-day Championship which starts on Thursday(31).

A performance monitoring system of junior athletes has also been set up in view of next year’s Junior Asian Championships and the South Asian Junior Championship which will be held in Colombo.

Fernando said Sri Lanka had the potential to win seven medals at the Asian Junior Championships.

"We will constantly monitor the progress of junior athletes and will give our feedback to their coaches to keep them on track to win medals at the Junior Asian Championships."

Training exposure for at least two athletes at a University in Japan, Race Walking coaching clinic for local schools’ coaches, training opportunity for selected athletes at IAAF High Performance training centres are among planned activities ahead of Multi Sports events happening next year.

Sri Lanka has not won medals in track and field events at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games after the retirement of the likes of Susanthika Jayasinghe, Sugath Thilakaratne, Damayanthi Dharsha and Sriyani Kulawansa.

Meanwhile, the SLAA said that strict anti doping procedures would be followed at the National Championships.

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