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Against all odds

Upamalika glued her shoes to bring Sri Lanka Athletics Gold

by Pearl Thevanayagam

(September 06, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) The government, particularly the Sports Ministry, should hang its head in shame for ignoring an international sports star who had to take the bus to her hometown Dambulla while the dime-a-dozen MPs are accorded luxury vehicles and security even when they travel for their private engagements.

As reported by Damith Wickremasekara of the Sunday Times and reproduced by Sri Lanka Guardian, Upamalika Ratnakumari hails from a dirt-poor family not dissimilar to that other golden girl in athletics Susanthika who too underwent enormous opposition within the Sports Ministry and denied privileges all because she refused to pander to the ego of the then Sports Minister S.B.Dissanayake who was hankering after her athletic body.

In universities in the West sports stars who gain scholarships are given psychological counselling on how to cope with stardom but here particularly those that hail from rural areas are completely left alone to manage their sport and deal with the success their hard work brings.

The least the Sports Ministry could have done is provide her with spare pairs of quality shoes and enough cash to enable her to prepare herself for the international sports event by way of nourishment and general comfort but instead the poor girl had to glue her damaged shoes in order to compete in the race!!!

Despite the sufferings Sri Lankans have undergone these last 40 years owing to JVP insurgency, Tamil militancy and state repression against such revolts they continue to beat the odds by bringing glory to the country in fields such as education, sports and business entrepreneurship.

Had Upamalika won the Gold during President Premadasa’ s time she certainly would not have been given this abysmal shabby treatment this government accorded her.

It is time sports ministry officials even at this late hour make sure Upamalika’s family is uplifted from its penury state so that she could rest easy and perform even better in other international events without worries.

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