Sri Lanka’s 2021 Olympic medal hopes lie with Mathilda Karlsson in the equestrian event
By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
The National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Sri Lanka has appointed a Junior Development Committee to monitor young athletes.
“They (the IOC) have started the Youth Olympics very recently about ten years ago so we are now going to look at the talented athletes at junior level also,” said NOC President Suresh Subramaniam.
“When it comes to high performance we take the top athletes in Sri Lanka. Although they are top in Sri Lanka they are far below against the rest of the world. Whatever high performance we do we will not achieve unless it is at a younger level and if we don’t compete internationally we have no chance,” he said.
Subramaniam believes that Sri Lanka has a chance of winning Olympic medals in equestrian, archery and gymnastics events at the next Olympics which has been postponed to 2021 because of COVID-19.
“The 2020 Olympics has been postponed by a year. Most of the event more than 60% of the Olympic events qualification was over before even I was involved. The only thing I told the Olympic committee was the premier events are athletics and swimming and we have no chance this year to win any medals. But it doesn’t mean that we have to ignore the other sports. At the end of the day a medal is a medal, an Olympic medal,” said Subramaniam.
“We were very lucky we have a Sri Lankan-born Swedish girl Mathilda Karlsson qualifying for the equestrian event for Sri Lanka. She will have to requalify because the Olympics is postponed. In archery there is a girl and a boy I don’t know who will qualify. These sports nobody has ever qualified before. Then in gymnastics one girl out of two will qualify. We have to look at all the other sports. Swimming and athletics are the premier sports but the most difficult. At one time we did very well,” he said. Subramaniam said one of the biggest drawbacks for our sports athletes was the lack of international competition.
“When you ask these athletes they go for one or two events maximum in the world for a year. They also have complaints. One long jumper told me that he could have broken the record if the official had not measured the distance with a bogus ‘hora’ tape,” said Subramaniam.
“Look at the athlete’s mentality before they participate, can they jump? True or false I don’t know, but when you have that kind of worry in your mind how can you compete? That is why I said the officials have to be above board and unbiased. Then things will fall in place.”