An idea to improve athletic performance in schools in Sri Lanka – the Island
Many of our school athletes have performed well nationally. Some of them had represented the country. Carl Vayn Geyzel, while studying at Cambridge, participated in the high jump at the 1928 Olympic Games representing Great Britain because Ceylon was his colony and was not then a member of the IOC. Many athletes competed in the 1948 London Olympics, with Duncan White winning the silver in the 400m hurdles. As a 17 year old schoolboy, I represented Ceylon at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. At the 1954 Asian Games in Manila, only Krester sprinter June and I, still a schoolboy, represented Ceylon. Although I was one of four to set the new Asian Games high jump record, I was placed fourth due to more misfires.
Recommendation to improve athletic performance in schools
The following recommendations, if implemented, will ensure that future athletes have a fair chance of qualifying to represent Sri Lanka and win medals at the South Asian and Asian Games.
It is important that young athletes participate in running and jumping events when they are in elementary schools.
1. Double sports meetings between schools in the same education zones.
The first three of each test of the inter-house meetings can represent their school to face each of the schools in their education zone. Preferably every weekend or every other weekend. If a weekday is scheduled, events should take place after school hours. It is preferable that the dual meetings take place before the district and provincial meetings.
Double competitions between schools can be similar to one-day cricket matches once a week. Unlike cricket, Athletic Dual matches can be concluded in half a day. For example, from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. All the tests will be finals as there will only be 6 competitors (3 from each school) for each of the 10 to 12 tests. Athletics tracks marked for the inter-house school meet may be used for all matches during the athletics season.
In schools and universities in the USA, there is no speech or ceremony for the presentation of trophies or certificates. Schools in Sri Lanka can follow similar traditions. The results published on the schools website and in local newspapers will serve as a performance review and encouragement. The ceremonies after each event or at the end of the competition consume precious time of students and teachers, spectators and scarce resources.
Schools in a district or education zone can prepare a Dual competition schedule for 13-19 year olds. At present, the people who are ranked in the top three in each of the competitions move on to the next level. Those who have not been placed do not have the chance to compete until the following year. Doubles sports competitions will give athletes from each school eight to ten meetings to compete, increasing their chances of improving their performance.
2. Academic requirements to represent the school in competitions
Currently, there is no academic requirement in Sri Lanka for a student to represent the school in sports competitions. In all high schools in the United States, students must maintain a credit average to represent their school in all sports. Similar regulations exist in all universities. Such a requirement ensures that the student-athlete also focuses on learning. All of the athletes who represent the United States and participate in the Olympics are students or graduates of universities, high schools or community colleges.
The Sri Lanka School Sports Council shall ensure that students who represent their school in any sport maintain a passing or credit average in the previous term or semester to represent their school in the term or of the following semester. Such a requirement will help the student-athlete to excel in both.
I hope that the National School Sports Council, the Ministry of Education and the provincial councils will consider the proposed recommendations to improve the level of academic and sports performance of school athletes. These tips will pave the way for improving sports performance at national level.