St. Sylvester’s have produced top class sportsmen | Daily News

St. Sylvester’s have produced top class sportsmen

Malcom Bulner the most outstanding :

St. Sylvester’s College, Kandy has produced some of the top class sportsmen. This school is situated in the heart of the seat of ancient Sinhala Kings and remains as the one and only school in the country if not in the World to have produced a sportsman who was selected to represent two different countries at two different Olympic games. That is none other than boxer Malcolm Bulner.

Bulner was the eldest of the famous Bulner brothers. He represented Ceylon at the Olympic Games in Tokyo and was later selected to represent Australia at the following Olympic Games.But was deprived of achieving this rare feat owing to technical reasons.

Malcolm who became an Australian national later qualified as a World Class Boxing Judge and officiated at several boxing meets in Australia. He also boxed for the country at the Empire Games in Perth and the Asian Games in Bangkok.

Bulner a south paw was the best boxer produced by Derrick Raymond the famous coach who was in England and passed away a few years back. Bulner won several national titles before migrating to Australia. His three brothers Michael, Noel and Clifford too wee good fighters in the lower weight class. Some products produced by Derrick Raymond were Nimal Leweke now a retired DIG who was also a stylish boxer and brought honor to the country in several meets locally and Internationally and was adjudged the best boxer at national meets. He also hit the top in the rugby arena where he was top player, later a coach, referee and the first to head a national body that was rugby.

The others who come to mind are A.C.R. Hearthge, M. Reyal, S.A.Azwer, H. Edmun, J. Peterson, D.C.Weerasinghe, T.S. Hassan, Derick Gunasinghe, N.Thirukumar.

The first Sylversterian to win a national boxing title was Donald G. Labrooy who won the Bantham Weight title in early 1950’s. He was followed by Malcolm, Marshal, Milroy de Soysa, Anslem de Soysa, M.Enver Marikar. Boxing was synonymous with St. Sylvester’s which was in he forefront of schools boxing winning the coveted Stubbs Shield several times - within fourteen years they won on 12 times. Origin of St. Sylvester’s dates back to the early 1940’s. St. Sylvester’s began as a separate institution on November 1, 1940 with very Rev. Fr. D. Robert. Perera O.S.B. as the principal. The college owed its inception to the foresight of his Lordship Bishop Regna and Abbot Weerasinghe, the heads of the Sylvestro-Benedictine congregation.

They felt that a good catholic school in Kandy town was a prime need. Once St. Anthony’s had been completely shifted to its home on the banks of the Mahaweli at Katugastota. Rev father Robert was given the tremendous task of seeing to progress of the new school.

St. Sylvester’s had made a name for itself in the field of education.Not only in Kandy but also throughout the length and breadth of the island. Starting with a mere 250 pupils and 12 teachers in 1940. Father Robert was not expected to do big things at St. Sylvester’s. The buildings were not teeming with scholars The laboratories were empty, and libraries were without books. Even the wherewithal to run the school was not available. I t is said that he had to start with an over draft. But the picture of the institution now is a very different one. It is full to capacity, and its financial stability is assured.

The authoritarian of the Sylvestro-Benedictines intended originally to develop St. Sylvester’s only as a junior school and affiliated to St. Anthony’s. But such restrictions did not dampen the spirit of Father Robert. He had early visions of his institution as a collegiate school, second to none in the Island. Statue of Sylvester Gozzolini at St. Sylvester's College, Kandy Motto: (Success through dedication).

Later during the Primership of late S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike the school was taken over by the Government. A big hand should go to principal like late D.J.N. Senavirthne who did yermon service followed by K.S.Gunaratne, W.B.Goppallawa, late Bertie Nillagoda, and Asoka B.Hearth who as principals gave of their best and the present Principal T.R. Meetiyagoda who is an old boy continues the good work.

St. Sylvester’s continues to produce boxers, cricketers, footballers, hockey players, athletes, ruggerites with limited facilities. It is said that during the early years after the 2nd World War, St. Sylvester’s was entitled to use the Police Barracks. The pint sized ground was expanded with the help of Sylverstain students and also the Principal of Trinity College permitted the Sylverstians to use the Asgiriya Grounds for athletic practices and sports meets free of charge.

In athletics, Sylverstians produced an athlete who broke a public schools record and was one of the country’s crack sprinters. Felix Samarawickrema, who later crossed over to St. Joseph's College. He lowered the Public Schools 440 yards record with a timing of 51.8 seconds in 1948. At the same meet he won the 100 yards sprint with a timing of 10.6 seconds. Felix Samarawickrema was chosen to represent the country at the Empire Games in 1949 along with Trinity College’s Duncan White. But had to pull out due to a muscle injury and Vivian Blaze took his place.

Other top athletes to come out of this school, in the 1950’s were Cyril Ranatunge, P. Thagavelu, Ananda Daswatte, G.S.Fernando, M.E.Marikar, S.Wickremasuriya, Leslie and Malcom Marshal. later there were several others like L S.B Cabral, Rodney David, W.R.P. Dias, S.B.Pattapola and Eric B. Perera. Football was another popular sport from 1940’s to 1960’s.

Some of them played for the country and others for Kandy, Up-Country and work places Among them were Mahinda Aluwihare the first Sylverstian to lead the Country.

The other who shone in the early days before Mahinda Aluwihare were N.E.Perera, I.M.Saheed, Edmun Samarawera, A.H.M.Jabar, /Jaya Aluwihare, R.P.Wijasiri, Tony Dircekz, Percy Samaraweera, Rukman and Rajendra de Silva, M.E.Marikar led in 1953, Donald G. Labrooy, Abdul Razak, Gerad David, I.M. Anver, Hector Galuge, M. Ayub. In the recent years they have been many at Cricket. It was M.E. Marikar who first played premier cricket without playing for the school. He was followed by Abdul Razak. Nihal Samarasekara was the first to play for the Ceylon before Sri Lanka gained Test status. Ishak Shabdeen was the first to play for the country after gaining Test status.

Later the school produced galaxy of cricketers. The man who reached the top in coaching is Malcolm Perera who hit the highest spot in coaching, though he did not play for the country. He rose to be Sri Lanka Cricket Coaching Director and later Manager. He had the privilege of leading Kandy CC, Kandy and Central Province at cricket.

In hockey they have produced top teams and players, coaches and administrators. Hockey was one of the oldest sport at this schools.

Moot of the products have done their best in this sport by representing Combined Schools, Kandy and the country. To name some of the hockey players - Malcolm Marshal, Lesley Marshal, M.E.Marikar, P. Thangavelu, T.D.S.Perera, T.Murigesh, Lakshman Kultunge, C.Paramasivam, Nihal Samarasekara.

Malcolm Perera has played in 23 hockey nationals. Anton Perera, M.Ayub, I. M.Anwer, A.G.T. Soloman, S.Sundaranayagam, H.C.Rangith, H.C.Edward, David brothers, Rodney, Kinsley and Gerard, Anton Perera played for the country as a schoolboy, D.G.Tilkarathne, M.A.M.Saheed, are some of the names which came to mind.

Though rugger is new, some of the Sylverstians who played club rugby without playing for the school are Malcolm Marshal, Cyril Aluwihare, Hector Galuge, Sarath Basnayake, Gerad David , Tony Direckez, Nimal Leweke, H. Marikar, M. Jamilon, Vasantha Ratnayake, Anton Fernando and Manjla Pathirane became the first to play for the combined school after rugger was started. They first played rugger in 1954 under the leadership of Malcolm Marshal and after two years they had to give up due to lack of facilities.