Deaths of Lakshman and Karu a big loss for athletics
Former Sri Lanka Olympic marathon runner K.A. Karunaratne and Sri
Lanka national athletic coach, Lakshman de Alwis were amongst those who
were killed in yesterday's bomb explosion in Weliweriya which also took
the life of Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle.
They were among the 14 persons killed when an LTTE suicide bomber,
disguised as a marathon runner, blew himself up early this morning.
Warrant Officer Karunaratne (53), who was recently elected President
of the CT & FC, was the chief organiser of
Lakshman de Alwis
the marathon race, conducted with the aim of grooming talented
long distance runners.
Karunaratne, in a media interview recently, said his aim is to build
a team of good marathon runners and the Weliweriya marathon is the first
step towards that goal. He was planning to get reputed long distance
runners and organise an annual international marathon.
He represented Sri Lanka at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona and
many other international meets with distinction.
'Marathon Karu', as he was better known in the athletics, was a
household name during his era, as the king of the popular Nestomalt
Veteran track and field coach De Alwis (69) too was attending the
regional marathon race in Weliweriya, at which Minister Fernandopulle
was the chief guest. De Alwis has produced many Sri Lanka athletes over
the past four decades, including Asian Games gold medallists S.L.B.
Rosa, Sunil Gunawardena and former sprint queen K.G. Badra Gunawardena.
In his second term as the Sri Lanka national coach, De Alwis has been
serving in the top capacity for the last four years.
He has also served as the Sri Lanka national coach before serving in
Brunei on a three-year stint. In his return to Sri Lanka early this
decade, De Alwis was once again appointed Sri Lanka national coach,
ending an eight-year term of Dervin Perera.
Minister of Sports and Public Recreation, Gamini Lokuge too had a
close call in yesterday's blast.
He too was scheduled to be the chief guest and give away the awards
to the winners of the marathon.
"Since I was in Gampaha attending a function at the Botanical Gardens
with Ministers Karu Jayasuriya and Bandula Basnayake, I accepted their
invitation to be the chief guest at the closing ceremony of the
It was an unfortunate situation to lose Minister Fernandopulle and
two former Sri Lanka athletes - K.A.Karunaratne and Lakshman de Alwis,"
Minister Lokuge said yesterday.
Asian Games gold medallist Sunil Gunawardena was shocked to hear the
death of his 'guru' - De Alwis.
"He had a passion for athletics.
Even after his retirement, he could not forget his life at grounds
and was even seen at Sugathadasa Stadium yesterday with the national
poolists," de said.
Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle who was a keen sports lover served as
the President of the Elle Federation of Sri Lanka.
This sport is one that was very popular in the Gampaha District for
which Minister had a liking.