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CFSL looking for better future

Sri Lanka had sweet memories in cycling and the most recent addition was at the recently concluded South Asian Games in Dhaka when the versatile rider Janaka Hemantha of Sri Lanka Air Force won a gold medal in the 170 kilometer road race. But the Cycling Federation of Sri Lanka’s targets more and more. “Our target is to win medals at the 2014 Asian Games”, said the Secretary of Cycling Federation of Sri Lanka Nishantha Indunil Piyasena who is also the Assistant Secretary to the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka.

When Morris Cumarawel represented Sri Lanka (Ceylon) at the 1960 Rome Olympics, Sri lanka’s cycling reigned above most of the sports for Sri Lanka at International level. In the late 60s, Trevor de Silva won a bronze medal in track cycling at Bangkok Asian Games, proving that Sri Lanka can make an impact in the Asian level. In 1989, Kamal Palitha was placed seventh at the Asian Championships in India.

But the worst nightmare for Sri Lankan cycling struck when the Lankan cyclists disappeared at the Asian Games in Hiroshima in 1994.

Thereafter the Sri Lankan cyling faced a huge decline as the best cyclist they had that time, were not there to serve the country. Sri lanka was not given a chances to compete in many major events thereafter.

But Sri Lanka is now on winning track again. The Cycling Federation of Sri Lanka is already on the way to make a brilliant team in order to fulfill the dream of winning a medal at the Asian Games in 2014. “President CSFL Senior DIG K.P.P. Pathirana is well set for this mission, and has been the key factor in making this a success” said Nishantha who insists that Sri Lanka cycling has a lot more to gain from him.

“Apart from that main objective, CFSL has already focused on new strategies in promoting, encouraging, supervising, controlling and encouraging competitive cycling with other countries, participating in International competitions and conducting National Championships” said Nishantha.

He insists that along with the development of the sport, there should be good discipline among athletes and officials, self control, fair play and the respect for rules. The safety, health and psychological well-being are also three areas needed to be focused on, said Nishantha.

“As primary objectives, we target the Asian Cycling Championship which is to be held in Dubai in April, Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October and the Asian Games in Guangzhou in November this year. We hope our cyclists will perform well at these events and thereafter we can develop them to their extremes, for a medal at 2014 Asian Games.

The CFSL currently maintains their National Cycling pool based in Anuradhapura, with the helping hand offered by the Air Vice Marshall Roshan Goonathillake. National Coach Upali Ratnayake along with his two assistant coaches Tuder Weerasuriya and Kamal Palitha, is already doing their best to uplift the standard of Lankan cycling.

The plan is to maintain the pool cnsissting 12 men, six women riders and three coaches with one lady chaperon at all times.

The current racing calendar of Sri Lanka provides enough exposure for riders, mainly at Neth National Cycling Championship, Air Force Cycle Tour and the Carlton Cycle Tour.

“It is called the poor man’s sport in Sri Lanka. But it is no more the poor man’s sport. A single race costs around Rs. 15,000 per rider, not forgetting bicycle which costs around Rs. 400,000. The training sessions too, has to bare the same costs along with the costs for the supply vehicle and crew which follows the riders.

Currently the CFSL bares expenses with funds from the Ministry of Sports. As cycling is the best way to promote a brand, it will be a good opportunity for a long term sponsor and that is what the CFSL is looking for right now.

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