Gymnast Milka opens the eyes of the powers that be? | Sunday Observer

Gymnast Milka opens the eyes of the powers that be?

30 July, 2023
Milka Gehani (right) - women’s champion and Nadila Nethviru - men’s champion of the Western Province after their victories at the conclusion of the gymnastic championship that coincided with the 47th National Sports Festival at Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium on Wednesday

Despite her impressive international performances, Sri Lanka’s only artistic gymnastic Olympian, Milka Gehani, has been unable to showcase her full potential on home soil due to the dilapidated condition of the Sugathadasa Stadium floor.

The issue came to light during the recently concluded Gymnastic Championships held in conjunction with the 47th National Sports Festival at the Sugathadasa Stadium on Wednesday.

The Secretary of the Sri Lanka Gymnastic Association, Udara Liyanwala, expressed concerns over the insufficient facilities available for Milka to freely demonstrate her skills in her home country. While she has consistently earned more than 50 points on international stages, her record in Sri Lanka stands at a disappointing 48.65. The disparity in scores can be attributed to the subpar conditions at the Sugathadasa Stadium, where she couldn’t perform at her best.

According to the Association, the Sugathadasa Stadium provides a poor standard platform for athletes to perform, putting them at risk of knee and ankle injuries. The facility’s inadequate state has been a persistent issue for over a decade, and the Association has been urging the Sri Lanka Sports Authorities to find a solution.

Highlighting the urgency of the matter, the Association emphasized the need for prompt action before the upcoming Gymnastic Nationals scheduled for August 26-27, 2023, at Torrington. As a result of Milka Gehani’s remarkable Olympic performances, the International Gymnastic Federation has been approached by the Sri Lanka Gymnastic Association to support women’s gymnastics in Sri Lanka with state-of-the-art equipment.

Approximately Rs 50 million worth of equipment was offered three months ago by the International Gymnastic Federation following a request made by former Association president Kokila Kaluarachchi and Secretary Kapila Jeewantha. The equipment is crucial as Milka Gehani had lacked proper facilities when qualifying for World Championships and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Looking forward, the Association has a vision to establish a National Training Centre, equipped with the required apparatus. Currently stationed at Torrington, the Association is actively seeking a suitable location to set up the Centre. The aim is to provide both senior and junior national pools with access to the state-of-the-art facility, enhancing their training and performances.

In related news, the commencement of the Junior National Pool is scheduled for next week after a four-year hiatus, providing promising young gymnasts with an opportunity to receive specialized training and nurturing their talent.

The challenges faced by Milka Gehani and the Sri Lanka Gymnastic Association shed light on the critical need for adequate sports facilities in the country.