By Susil Premalal
Former S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia and Sri Lanka rugby captain Namal Rajapaksa assumed duties as the 18th Minister of Sports following religious observances amid a large gathering of fans and well wishers at the Duncan White auditorium in the Sports Ministry, Reid Avenue, Colombo yesterday.
The 34-year-old parliamentarian from Hambantota is the youngest to be appointed as Minister of Sports in addition to the portfolio of Youth Affairs.
Namal’s wife Limini, his proud parents Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Mrs. Shiranthi Rajapaksa, his brothers Yoshitha and Rohitha, and their extended families were among the dignitaries present on this auspicious occasion.
There was an unprecedented gathering of supporters to bless the young minister on this occasion.
Among the dignitaries were former Sports Ministers Johnston Fernando and Dullas Alahapperuma, Olympic silver medallist Susanthika Jayasinghe, Asian Games gold medallist Sunil Gunawardena, former Sri Lanka netball captain Damayanthi Jayatilleke and representatives of sports bodies in addition to former national stars.
The new minister’s biggest challenge will be to oversee the return of sports activities following health guidelines and to put Sri Lanka back on track in search of medals at international competitions.