Sri Lanka at the Olympics
London 2012 Olympics started on the evening of July 27, 2012 with a
gala opening ceremony and is now underway in Britain at multiple venues.
The Hurricane movie poster
Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) first participated in the Olympics in 1948
and has since been an active member of the international Olympic
movement. The country’s National Olympic Committee has been active since
In today’s Wiz Quiz, we continue our coverage of the Olympics with a
handful of questions on Sri Lanka and the Olympics, and also the
1. Even though Ceylon first sent a sporting contingent to the
Olympics in 1948, a Ceylonese sportsman was included in the British team
to the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics - and can thus be considered the first
Ceylonese to participate in the Olympics. Born in 1902, this sportsman
excelled in high jump and held the Asian Record in men’s high jump in
mid 1920s. His performance as a Cambridge student drew the attention of
athletic officials in Britain. In Amsterdam, he was placed 19th out of
35 competitors in the high jump event. He later served as President of
Sri Lanka Athletics Association. Who was he?
2. Duncan White was the first Lankan (or Ceylonese) to win an Olympic
medal when he came second in the men’s 400 metre hurdles event at the
1948 London Olympics. Two years later, he competed in the same event
(440 yards hurdles) at the British Empire Games (now called Commonwealth
Games) and came first, beating the favourite Dutch Holland of New
Zealand into second place and breaking the existing Empire Games record.
In which city and country did he perform this feat in February 1950?
3. At the Sydney Olympics in 2000, Sri Lanka’s Susanthika Jayasinghe
came third in women’s 200 metres, thus earning Sri Lanka’s second
Olympic medal after more than half a century. In December 2009, the
International Olympic Committee stripped Marion Jones of the United
States of her medals after she admitted in 2007 that she used steroids
at the time of the Sydney Games.
In doing so, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) reallocated
the medals, moving up Susanthika from bronze to silver, and the original
second place winner to the gold. Who is now deemed to have come first in
women’s 200 metres at the Sydney Olympics?
4. Some athletes are applauded and remembered for upholding the
spirit of competition even if they do not win. Such an Olympian was a
long distance runner from Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) at Tokyo 1964
Olympics. He was placed 47 out of 52 participants in the men’s 5,000
metre race. Then he ran in 10,000 metre race, on October 14, 1964,
reportedly while suffering from a bad cold.
The event was won by Billy Mills of the United States, who lapped the
Ceylonese runner by four rounds. But the determined Ceylonese runner
kept running and completed the race - to a standing ovation from the
entire stadium. Who was this remarkable runner?
5. Sri Lanka has participated in all Summer Olympic Games since 1948
except for one, where, it appears from some records, that the
participation of even the single Lankan sportsman who qualified was
bungled by the bureaucracy. Which Games after 1948 saw no Lankan
contingent, which might be described as an ‘own goal’?
6. The Paralympics started small in 1948 with British veterans of the
Second World War, but has evolved to become one of the largest
international sport events by the early 21st century. These Games are
open to qualifying athletes with a physical disability including those
with mobility disabilities, amputations, blindness and cerebral palsy.
There are Winter and Summer Paralympic Games, which are held immediately
following their respective Olympic Games. Sri Lanka first participated
in the Paralympic Games at the 1996 Summer Paralympics in Atlanta, with
a single athlete in track and field. Who was this first Paralympian from
Sri Lanka? He took part in men’s 100m, 200m and long jump.
7. Success in sporting requires not only committed sportsmen and
sportswomen but also capable administrators and promoters. The Sri Lanka
National Olympic Committee was inaugurated on April 8, 1937 at a meeting
of representatives of Athletic, Swimming and Boxing Associations. It was
originally called Ceylon Olympic and Empire Games Association. It was
recognized by the International Olympic Committee that same year. Who
was elected President of this body at its first meeting held on April
8. Who was he? An urban politician, he was initially a municipal
councilor of Colombo, and twice served as Mayor of Colombo - from 1956
to 1957 and again from 1963 to 1965. He became Sri Lanka’s first
minister of sports from 1966 to 1970, and was also President of the Sri
Lanka National Olympic Committee from 1962 to 1972.
9. Four Lankan sportsmen and three sportswomen are currently
representing Sri Lanka at the London Olympics 2012. It includes two
swimmers, two badminton players, two athletes (one marathon runner and
one sprinter) and one marksman (shooting). Who is the overall captain of
the Sri Lankan sporting contingent?
10. London 2012 Olympics features 26 sports and a total of 39
disciplines. For the first time, women’s boxing is included, with 36
athletes competing in three different weight classes. Which are these
11. In 1966, at the height of his boxing career, this American boxer
was wrongly convicted twice of a triple murder and imprisoned for nearly
two decades. During the mid 1970s, his case became a cause célèbre for a
number of civil rights leaders, politicians, and entertainers. He was
ultimately exonerated in 1985. While in prison he wrote this powerful
autobiography called ‘The Sixteenth Round’ in the hope that it would
inspire, and bring to life the harsh circumstances of his false
incarceration. In 1999 Norman Jewison directed the movie Hurricane based
on his life. Bob Dylan wrote the title track of The Hurricane after
reading The Sixteenth Round. Denzel Washington played his character and
was nominated for best actor Oscar that year. Who is this boxer?
12. The polar regions receive a lot of attention in discussions on
climate change impact. There is a place in Asia that has more ice stored
than anywhere outside the Arctic and Antarctic - and is sometimes called
the ‘Third Pole’. The Asian continent’s nine largest rivers originate
here, and provide over 1.5 billion people with water and three billion
people with their food and electricity. What is sometimes known as the
13. According to the preliminary results of the latest 2011/12
census, Sri Lanka’s population growth rate since the last census in 2001
has been 0.7%. In fact, there has been a declining trend in population
growth rate for over half a century, even though the population still
keeps increasing in absolute numbers. The highest population growth rate
in the 140-year history of census taking in Sri Lanka was 2.8%. Which
year’s census recorded that highest growth rate?
14. What famous English novelist and dramatist once advised: “At a
dinner party one should eat wisely but not too well, and talk well but
not too wisely.”
15. The red coloured telephone box, or telephone kiosk, is a familiar
sight on the streets of the United Kingdom (UK). It is also used in some
current or former British colonies around the world like Malta, Bermuda
and Gibraltar. The red telephone box was the result of a competition in
1924. Whose winning design was adapted by the British Post Office, with
some minor modifications?
Last week’s answers
1. Bishop Ethelbert Talbot (1848 - 1928)
2. Danny Boyle
4. Hampden Park in Glasgow
5. Montreal 1976
6. Alfred Adolf Oerter, Jr
7. Carl Lewis
8. Birgit Fischer
9. Joan Benoit
10. Merlene Ottey
11. Rome 1960
12. R G (Richard Gotab haya) Senanayake (1911 - 1970)
13. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)
14. Sim Sim Hamara
15. Dara Singh