Veteran coach and former Olympian Sunil Gunawardana described the lack of the Sugathadasa Stadium track was the main reason behind downfall of athletics in the recent past.
He stated that the Sugathadasa Stadium itself will not solve the current need of athletics and he pointed out there was the need for a few other tracks as well.
“Why are we asked to beat whole of China, whole of India after training in mud or grass tracks here,” asked Gunawardana.
Further describing the situation Gunawardana stated that track and field is the prime sport which can give Sri Lanka global medals.
“Yes we won from Cricket. But they still cannot go to Olympics because of the lack of countries participating. We have only won Two Gold medals at the Olympics and both from athletics. We have won ten Asian Games Gold medals and all of them from athletics. 52% of SAG Gold medalists have been won from athletics. Yet we have fallen to a point where our athletes did not have a track to train in the country anymore,” observed Gunawardana.
“Most of our athletes got into injuries. They could not go for their targets. More importantly both our seniors and juniors trained in one stadium and none of them could do their training properly,” said Gunawardana describing that there were too many athletes to train on a single ground.
“I went to Jamaica to the training centre of Usain Bolt. He has two grounds to train, a grass and a synthetic track. Only sprinters are allowed to train on that ground. That’s how they win an international meet,” said Gunawardana who further described differentiating various disciplines in athletics and giving them special places to train is the way forward.
He further said that he is happy about the refurbishment of the Sugathadasa track but without a few other grounds this refurbishment will not be fruitful as expected.
When I was schooling first I trained at the Oval. Then I did most of my school meets at the Police ground and St. Peter’s ground. First Ceylon record was set at the University ground. But all grounds have turned in to Rugby or Cricket venues. We don’t have grounds now. How can we train? It’s the same case in the outstations,” noted Gunawardana in conclusion.