Dian Gomes, President of ABA flanked by Wasantha Kumara, Vice President and Hemantha Weerasinghe spelling out the plans of ABA at a press conference held at his residence on Saturday. (Picture by Samantha Perera)
By M. Shamil Amit
Dian Gomes, a name synonymous with boxing in Sri Lanka, is embarking on a third round as the head of the Amateur Boxing Association of Sri Lanka (ABA) which was confirmed at a press briefing recently.
Gomes’ first stint as the head of the ABA was in 2004 and it was during this successful first tenure that boxer Anuruddha Ratnayake qualified for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. It was after a lapse of four decades, since H.K. Karunaratne in 1968, that Sri Lanka was able to achieve this.
Gomes’ second stint started in 2017 and continues to date, a period during which Sri Lankan pugilists participated in 35 international boxing meets, bagging 35 medals. In the year 2018 Sri Lankan boxers were able to bag three bronze medals at the Commonwealth Games held in Gold Coast, Australia and that was achieved after a lapse of 68 years.
Gomes briefing the media stressed, "We have the talent as we showed our capabilities in the recent past but the only thing is that the participants should be given the support, encouragement and confidence to achieve what we want.”
With that in mind Gomes was optimistic about the sport’s future, and spelt out the ABA’s four-year plan.
Speaking further he said, “Our aim in the future is not to win a silver or a bronze medal but to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games due to be held in Birmingham, England in 2022 and qualify to the Olympics in France in 2024. Boxing is one of the three sports that Sri Lanka can win medals apart from athletics and weight-lifting.”
In achieving all these medals at international boxing meets the boxers were financed by the BASL, thanks to generous sponsors, with no support from the Minister of Sports.
“However we look forward to meet the Minister of Sports Namal Rajapakse who is a good sportsman and who loves sports and discuss with him about our grievances and I am confident his support will be given to the BASL. We are also looking forward to meet the Cuban ambassador to request for a Cuban coach as previously we were successful with two of their coaches who trained our boxers.”
Gomes has raked in an experienced individual in Wasantha Kumara who has immense experience and would no doubt be an asset the new committee. Kumara, an AIBA 3 star coach, was a former Sri Lanka boxing coach also serving as the President of School Boxing Coach Association and Secretary Boxing Coaches Association.
Gomes also said, “In the coming four years we have drawn up plans for the Sri Lankan boxers to train with foreign teams, referees and judges, coaching development programmes, foreign training and also joint training for school boxers.”
Speaking about the events that have come to a half due to the coronavirus pandemic, he said, “We intend to meet the Minister and health officials and will be looking forward to conduct the national boxing meet in December and also we intend to conduct a dual school meet against India.”