Anuruddha re-writes history
First boxer since 1968 to compete at Olympics:
Sri Lanka’s Anuruddha Ratnayake rewrote history books when he became
the first boxer since 1968 to qualify and represent the country at next
year’s Olympic Games in China.
The 31 year old boxer from Slimline BC performed the near
impossibility when he powered his way into the quarterfinals of the fly
weight under 51 kgs weight class event in the on going AIBA World
Championships in Chicago, United States of America.
Sri Lanka’s last representative at an Olympic Games was H. K.
Karunaratne who participated way back in 1968. This means that a Sri
Lankan boxer will at last compete in the 2008 Olympics having failed to
qualify for nine successive Olympic Games.
Ratnayake’s performance was even more significant considering the
fact that he was staging a comeback after being banned for two years. He
was tested positive for ‘flurocide’ a banned drug while competing at the
2005 Commonwealth Games in the United Kingdom.
Ratnayake of course had taken the banned drug to empty his bladder to
be within his weight category. However when the urine sample was called
for, he could not pass and his body did not respond and the test proved
The former boxer from Peradeniya MMV was soon reduced to shame and
was restricted to do some coaching at Slimline. He performed that role
successfully to a great extent in the absence of the official coach
Captain R. K. Indrasena and the Cuban coach Frometa Metos.
In addition Ratnayake coached the Peradeniya Central College and
helped his team win the L. V. Jayaweera Trophy and also guided his
teammate K. Alexander to win a silver medal in Iran early this year. The
Sri Lanka women’s boxers too brought home awards and Ratnayake was
turning out to be a successful coach.
But nothing brought him satisfaction and his prime intention was to
be in the ring once again when the two year ban was lifted. He kept fit
and trained hard to fight again determined to bounce back and probably
to make a lasting impression before hanging up his gloves.
Ratnayake certainly put his heart and soul into his training and was
quite anxious to honour his country at the AIBA World Championships. The
national champion was in tremendous form in his opening bout as he
outscored his Australian opponent Jimmy Ceapa in the fly weight under 51
kgs weight class event.
But his real challenge came in the pre quarterfinals where he was up
against Juan Vega of Ecuador. Ratnayake was reminded of a terrible
incident where he missed the gold medal due to an unfair decision at the
2003 South Asian Games in Pakistan.
But this time he settled down beautifully and went on to beat his
opponent on points 26-19. Ratnayake showed early promise and took a
crucial 12-8 lead in the first round and consolidated his position by
winning the second round 6-3.
He found stiff opposition thereafter with both competitors collecting
four points each during the third and fourth rounds respectively.
He will now meet Vicenzo Picardi of Italy in the quarterfinals
scheduled for today.