NOC SL President Subramaniam, NOC SL Secretary General Maxwell de Silva and several executive committee members while taking part in the run
Sri Lanka's Olympic Silver medallist Susanthika Jayasinghe lighting the Olympic torch
A part of the participants
School participants cheering during the Olympic Day run
- Right vibes through the reef program too
It was a fitting birthday celebration to the Olympic day by the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka at the Polhena Beach in Matara on Tuesday.
The most important flag ship event, the Olympic Day run, was obviously the centrepiece, yet earlier the same day the NOC SL also launched its environmental awareness program. The theme of this program was to be aware of the vagaries of the changing climate and its repercussions, which was amply and emphatically instilled into the people of Matara.
During the initial half of the day the NOCSL team, led by President Suresh Subramaniam and Secretary General Maxwell de Silva, ventured into an avenue that even the International Olympic Committee had not thought of. The initial half of the run was under the theme “Give the reef another chance” a concept mooted by NOCSL Secretary General de Silva and artist Dillai Joseph.
Speaking about the task of launching this year’s program, NOCSL Secretary General de Silva said: “Soon after we decided to have the Olympic Day Run on 25 June, we were heaped with the drawback of the 21 April carnage. I was under a lot of pressure to call off the Olympic Day Run, citing safety measures, but I was adamant that we should go ahead, because had we abandoned the program it were the Lankans who were going to lose nationally and internationally. Since the successful completion of the program, now we all know that we have sent the right vibes about the situation in Sri Lanka, especially the Southern Coast, and it is a safe place to travel and have an event of this nature, where there was a participation of over 1000 school children.” With the ever-changing conditions and confrontations of the challenges that the Lankan coral reef is threatened by, NOCSL sought the help of a team of experts of the subject -- as The National Aquatic Resource and Development Authority (NARA), Sri Lanka NAVY combine with Coast Conservation, Coast guard, Marine Environment Protection Authority, Tokyo Cement, Ocean Resources Conservation Association (ORCA) and the Wildlife Authority. As a result, the idea which was conceived early this year was a tremendous success with the completion of the Coral Replanting Program, which is a three year sustainable project, featuring an information centre as well.
The program was teed off with the beach-cleaning program, which involved over a hundred volunteers consisting of school children, selected prisoners, volunteer organisers, and others. To make the event more people spectator- and NOC-friendly, the event was also studded with activities such as surfing, swimming, life-saving, beach volleyball and beach kabaddi.
Besides the above, there were two art competitions which involved seventeen schools from the Matara area. The theme of the first competition was “Give the coral another chance”.
This was launched approximately two weeks ahead of the program with great success, as the organisers received over 2500 submissions.
The second was an art competition for fifty students from the area on the theme “Olympic Values”. The Olympic Day run, which was studded with a bevy of national and international athletes and sports men and women, led by the inimitable Susanthika Jayasinghe, Sri Lanka’s only surviving Olympic medallist, was a huge success among the one thousand school children who had the opportunity of running along the living legends.
The Chief Guest at the occasion was State Minister Seyed Ali Zahir Moulana, while the Guest of Honour was Susanthika Jayasinghe.