Triumphs amid adversaries at Commonwealth Youth Games | Sunday Observer

Triumphs amid adversaries at Commonwealth Youth Games

27 August, 2023
Ayomal Akalanka
Ayomal Akalanka

‘If there’s a will there’s a way’ goes the saying and often it really happens. This is what happened to the athletes who were selected to participate at the seventh Commonwealth Youth Games held at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Trinidad and Tobago from August 4 to 11.

The squad almost faced heartbreak and no show due to the obstacles to obtain a transit visa from some European destinations due to non availability of visa appointments or non availability of flights.

The contingent was often dumbstruck with only determination and hope until the eleventh hour.

Finally, the squad was left with only one option. That is to travel indirect through USA with the help of its authorities.

“We must be thankful to the High Commissioner for helping us get the visas to travel through New York,” said Maxwell de Silva the secretary of the NOC.

However, two athletes failed to travel via the USA. Even the manager, coach and lady chaperon failed to obtain visas and were left behind. Prizes of tickets also increased by the day and they finally ended up paying Rs. 1.8 million per ticket.

“We reached the destination just one day prior to the beginning of the event. We also had to accommodate three athletes in one room, which had never happened before. They even performed without their coach,” added De Silva.

Sri Lanka’s Ayomal Akalanka and Nilupul Pehesara won silver and bronze medals respectively - much to the joy of the sparse Sri Lankan community present at the venue.

Akalanka of Ambagamuwa MMV, came second in the 400m hurdles for boys’ with an impressive time of 51.61s while Pehesara of Vijitha MMV Dikwella, cleared a height of 2.00m to win the bronze medal in the boys high jump.

In fact, it was the first time since 2015 that Sri Lanka won medals at a Commonwealth Youth Games.

A total of 11 athletes from Sri Lanka (five track and field athletes, four swimmers and two beach volleyball players) participated.