Sports

My ambition is to bring SL Olympic medal – Suresh Subramaniam

By Revatha Silva

Photo by Saman Abesiriwardana

Incumbent President of the National Olympic Committee (NOC), Suresh Subramaniam, on Tuesday, 28 August, said his main objective as head of NOC is to bring an Olympic medal for Sri Lanka during his tenure.

Subramaniam was elected head of the NOC last February after a long occupancy of the hot seat by Hemasiri Fernando, present chairman of People’s Bank. Subramanaim, former leading tennis player, was former President of the Sri Lanka Tennis Association and the present Vice President of the Asian Tennis Federation.

“My main ambition is to bring an Olympic medal for Sri Lanka. I may have some years to work in this position and I’m determined to do it before I leave,” he told ‘The Morning’.

Excerpts:

On Sri Lanka’s failure to win a medal at the ongoing Asian Games so far:

We took over NOC administration only about six months ago. Since then we had to prepare for three major events: The Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and the Youth Olympic Games, coming up in Argentina in October. It was very tough to handle all of them in a very short time. Initially the Sports Ministry wanted to send only six sports for the Asian Games. They looked at only the financial and medal prospects when they do so. But I thought financing was our problem, not the athletes’. We can’t deprive them of representing the country which is their primary motive. We were finally able to send a very big contingent of about 175 athletes for 28 sports. But it should be said that we had only a couple of months to prepare.

Rating their performances in Indonesia so far:

Still a few of our athletes came to the finals, especially in swimming and athletics. There is a vast gap between Asian Games and Commonwealth Games where we won some medals early this year. China is a giant in world sport. See they’ve won over 80 gold medals already, when India has won only eight. Winning is only a fraction of it. There are various other aspects the athletes can achieve in participating in such a big international sports event. That’s why we thought of sending as many athletes as possible.

On some leading athletes not being able to make it to Indonesia due to an alleged bungling by the officials:

When it comes to deadlines for registration for international events such as the Asian Games, the organisers are very strict. Some of our athletic officials couldn’t meet those deadlines in spite of our reminding of those. We managed to sort out some issues with the Games’ organisers to send some of them anyway. But some couldn’t make it. It is an unfortunate thing. But we have to understand that it’s difficult to tackle those issues at the eleventh hour. We need to follow the strict guidelines imposed by the organisers of those events.

Some of your plans for the future:

We’ve already had discussions with various international sport bodies on how they can help our athletes to reach the next level. For instance, we’ll send our athletes from selected sports, for training in China. I’ve already had discussions with them. Some East European countries have pledged us that they’d give our tennis players special training there.

On the much talked-about issue with regard to the selection of women’s tennis team that went to the Asian Games:

I think it is a shortcoming on the part of the selection process. I feel worried because those who are involved are kids, though they are representing the country at the highest level. When it comes to Anika Seneviratne, she was unbeaten by the time the trials were held and deserved automatic selection. The rest in the trials had not had much of experience at women’s tennis though they were really good players.