From left: Army Para Games Committee Head of Athletics Brig. Rajeeva Wikramasinghe, Army Para Games Committee Deputy Chairman Brig. Rajitha Ampemohotti, Army Para Games Committee Chairman Maj. General Channa Gunathilaka, Dialog Axiata PLC Brand and Media General Manager Harsha Samaranayake and Army Para Games Committee Secretary Lt/Col. Deepal Herath - Pic by Ruwan Welpola
The final phase of the Army Para Games 2016 will get underway today at the Diyagama Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium, with the closing ceremony of the games set to be preceded by the Athletics Championships from 12-14 October.
The 2016 Army Para Games commenced in April, bringing together over 1000 athletes in 12 disciplines including archery, badminton, shooting, table tennis, wheel chair tennis, sitting volleyball, rowing, power lifting, cycling, wheel chair marathon, and swimming.
At the recently concluded Rio Paralympics games, eight of the nine athletes representing Sri Lanka were from the Army, with Dinesh Priyantha Herath winning the solitary medal for Sri Lanka as he clinched Bronze in the men’s javelin throw. Thus the Army’s continuous progress has seen it become the forerunner in national para sports.
Addressing the media, Army Para Games Committee Chairman Maj. Gen. Channa Gunathilaka said: “The steady progress our athletes have made has shown glimpses of the promise they possess in succeeding on the international stage. The Army has invested a lot in para sports and we will continue to do so, and with continued exposure and encouragement we believe Sri Lanka will be able to produce top international athletes in the future.”
Para sports were introduced to the Sri Lanka Army in 1991. The motive behind the initiative was to reinforce the process of rehabilitating the officers and men injured in battle. Over the years para sports have grown from strength to strength, propelled by the commitment of the athletes and encouragement by the Army. Today Sri Lanka boasts the 100 and 200 metres paralympic champion of Asia, Anil Prasanna Jayalath, who also holds the record for the 200 metres event; the Bronze medalist in the 400 metres at the London Paralympics in 2012, Pradeep Sanjaya; and the 100 and 200 metres Bronze medalists at the Asian Paralympics Games in 2014.
Dialog Axiata PLC, a strong proponent of paralympic sports in Sri Lanka, will be the official sponsor of the Games. Dialog in a statement said: “We are the proud sponsors of the National Paralympics Committee and the Sri Lanka Army Para Games Committee from 2015 to 2017. Having first sponsored the Sri Lanka Paralympic contingent in the year 2000, followed by 2004 and 2008, including sponsorship of the National Sports Festival for the Disabled, we are dedicated to empowering all segments of society to excel on the national and international stage.”
Dialog was also the sponsor of the Sri Lankan contingent to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and 2016 Asia Oceania Athletic Championships 2016 as well as the 2015 Doha Asian Paralympic Championships.