By Madushka Balasuriya
Suresh Subramaniam has been elected the new President of the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka, in the first election in two decades.
Running against President of the Amateur Rowing Association of Sri Lanka Rohan Fernando, Subramaniam won with a 19-12 simple majority during the vote held at last evenings NOCSL Annual General Assembly.
Presently the CEO and Director of Arrow International Private Ltd., Subramaniam is also a former Sri Lanka Davis Cup player and former President of the Sri Lanka Tennis Association. He is renowned in sporting circles for his tenure as Sri Lanka Tennis Association President from 2002 to 2007, during which it was recognised as the best run in the world by the International Tennis Federation. He was also recently appointed Vice President of the Asian Tennis Federation.
Subramaniam, who had the backing of former President Hemasiri Fernando, ran on the same ticket as General Secretary Maxwell De Silva, who also managed to secure re-election.
As part of his campaign, Subramaniam had laid out a ‘Roadmap’ consisting of five points.
The first point was to aggressively support the National Federations to help Sri Lankan athletes to qualify/win medals at the Commonwealth/Asian Games. Second, on the basis of merit, handpick a few sports and encourage their National Federations with every possible support to achieve glory at the 2020 Olympic Qualifiers/Medal events.
Support National Federations by helping them hire foreign coaches and sending deserving athletes for overseas training to the world’s best training centres, support National Federations to develop their indigenous coaches’ pool and help train them under the most competitive educational environment.
The fifth goal is to maintain high levels of accountability and transparency at all levels to root out any possibility of slowing down the growth process.
Speaking to Daily FT, Subramaniam said he was pleased with the result.
"At the end of the day sport is the winner. I’m very happy [with the way it was conducted] - it was a transparent election. And now we just need to get some medals," he said.
When questioned on corruption claims against the previous administration, Subramaniam said: "I had only two members from the previous administration, one of whom is Maxwell De Silva, who in fact won with the highest number of votes. But what people forget is that Maxwell is only a secretary, he has no access to any accounts. We expected today for the federations to raise questions but none of them raised any questions. In the last week I had two independent auditors come and look through every single document it.”
He further said that there may be some mistakes in the accounts, but no irregularities.
“So we went through it and I got it approved at the AGM, and once the final report is ready we will pass it at a special SGM."
Subramaniam is keen to move on.
"The past is in the past. Right now most of the federations don’t even have an office to conduct meetings. There are also some sports that need a lot of encouragement but they can win medals, like taekwondo, weightlifting, judo, wrestling. I’m also going to encourage private people to get involved,” he said.
Losing candidate Fernando, meanwhile, had run on an anti-corruption platform, promising to put an end to alleged financial irregularities at the NOCSL. Speaking to DailyFT, Fernando voiced hope that Subramaniam and his team would live up to their campaign promises.
“If this is what the federations want then that is what they’ll get. I personally hope they will perform,” said a palpably deflated Fernando.
Asked about his pre-election promise to go ahead - even in defeat - with a forensic audit of the NOCSL accounts, Fernando explained that it was now unlikely to happen as the sports federations had spoken.
“From this you can see that the majority are not keen on going ahead with a forensic. From the vote it is clear that they accept all these things, so there is no point wasting my time going after the rogues.”
“They have got what they wanted now. We’ll wait and see if we will have medal hopes in the future, as they have promised.”