World Olympian Association (WOA) was formed with the sole participants of Olimpics. There are 148 national Olympian associations have been registered with WOA, and now we are part of it.
The thought of forming National Olympians Association in Sri Lanka goes back to 2010 when Julian Bolling, Conrad Francis and I, (Sriyani Kulawansha), participated in Asian Olympian congress from which I was made aware of WOA. Since then, several attempts were made to form a national Olympians Association in sri lanka but all most all ended as failures due to the hectic life style of most of us. Yet again in 2015, with much vigour, effort, energy, and enthusiasm, Susanthika Jayasinghe, Damayanthi Darsha, Sugath Thilakarathne, Conrad Francis, Julian Bolling and I tried it again which too ended up as a failure.
One more time in 2016, April Susanthika Jayasinghe, Damayanthi Darsha, Sugath Thilakarathne and I joined together and had a discussion to make this a reality while seeking advice from the Asian Olympic Congress (AOC) about how to establish this entity.
The Asian Olympians Congress instructed us to form a team with 10 -12 Olympians and appoint an executive committee to complete the initialization work. So, in 26th September 2016, with the support of former President of Sri Lanka Athletics Associations Sugath Tilakarathne, we gathered few Olympic athletes and formed SLO. A shadow committee too was also appointed assigning the task of forming a constitution to SLO.
We made sure that the constitution we formed is very similar to the WOA constitution. We designed a LOGO for our Organization; And We came up with the Slogan “ONCE AN OLYMPIAN ALWAYS AN OLYMPIAN”. Those tasks were done after series of extreme evaluations and modifications by the committee. The LOGO was revised more than 10 times before finalizing. The process was not different when forming the Slogan too. We studied the slogans of other National Olympian Associations and selected three slogans, and finally we chose the slogan “ONCE AN OLYMPIAN ALWAYS AN OLYMPIAN”.
I wish to remind the volunteer assistance given by Mr. Chanaka Jayamaha, attorney – at – Law with legal facts. The constitution was revised large number of times before finalizing and we were able to make the final draft a few days before the AGM.
The main Purpose of SLO and WOA is the welfare of Olympians, as all the members here in the SLO are Olympic participants whose benefits should not be fallen on the wrong hands. Secondly, it is to promote and develop the ideals of Olympism throughout Sri Lanka. Further, this focuses on training athletes, find hidden talented athletes in rural areas etc… At present, we have a huge issue regarding doping in every corner of the world. Moreover, we will be continuously advising the new generations of Sri Lankan Olympians on how to achieve the best without harming the Sri Lankan Proudness.
Apart from what I mentioned above, we are gathering information about Olympians in Sri lanka, when we contacted various entities like National Olympic Committee, Sports Ministry it was very hard to even get a name list, Still we can’t say exactly how many Olympians we have here in Sri lanka. But according to the data we gathered, there are 96 Olympians since 1948. From them, only 67 Olympians are alive and only 46 Olympians live in Sri Lanka. The community around most of Olympians does not know these people as Olympians, so we determined to improve the awareness about Sri Lankan Olympians and appraise them. Most of the time when there is any regional sports event, there is no invitation or recognition about Olympians in that area, So I think from what we do using SLO, the olimpians will be appraised as the way they should when we introduce them to Sri lanka. We established a platform where Olympians can share their experience and motivate the youth to do sports beyond the limits; And Olympians can feel they have done their duty to this country by sharing their hard earned experience.
I’m sad we have lost some Olympians and we don’t know that. We did not even got chance to pay our last respects, but in the future SLO will be there to share the grivences with the families and honor them as an Olympian. Furthermore, we will be there to help fellow Olympians in every difficulty they face in their lives as a community.
In 15th July 2017, we gathered for our first Annual General Meeting with these purposes in our minds. 40 out of the 46 live Olympians in Srilanka were present on that day. And I personally invited the fellow Olympians to share any ideas, and the Speech done by Wimalasena Perera made me think I was achieving my dream and I have gained blessings. He is 76 years old and he was very happy about SLO, and what he said was he can live long because he got his old life back. And we gained the trust to give back the country and to execute our mission. It gave me the happiness, that the thing we did by devoting our selves for nearly two years has exceptional results.
Our Committee and myself, personally feel accomplished by completing the “Ran Sammana” Award Ceremony at President House, where our 42 Olympians are honored presenting a gold coin by the His Excellency the President Maithripala Sirisena for the fame they gave for the country. Special thanks go to the honorable Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara for funding the award ceremony and Sanath Weerasooriya for allocating the President House as the venue for the event. We have greetings from the President and grant of five million rupees to continue our humble work.
By doing all this we try to gather all our Olympians together, appraise them, help them, share their experience with the world and make more Olympic medalist from Sri Lanka in the near future from their support. This is my next Dream.