Kandy has produced world renowned sportsmen | Daily News

Kandy has produced world renowned sportsmen

Kandy is proud to have produced top sportsmen, who made Kandy and the country proud at the Olympics. When you talk about sports, the Olympics is one of the most coveted sports events in the world. Athletes toil away and await the time space of four years to get ready for the Games.

To state that the Olympics is just another tournament would be unjust and a disservice to the long, ethereal history of the games. To put it lightly, it is a festival of sportsmanship and camaraderie. A celebration of human civilization’s hunger to emerge as the best. In the same spirit of sportsmanship, Sri Lankan athletes have pledged their allegiances to their respective sport in a big way. Kandy has produced top Olympic heroes especially in athletics and boxing. Duncan White and Leslie Donovan Perera Handunge.

The two of them who have brought honour and fame to their home town and their country with their achievements. First was Duncan White in 1948, Wembley Olympics 400 meters hurdles, The stands swelled with cheering spectators, cameras whirred and the air hummed with the voice of famous commentators of the finalist line up.

These two from Kandy who made the city and the country proud are both products of Trinity College. Duncan White made his super effort, the moment he had been waiting for. Big hearted and with the determination written all over his face he flashed past the Swede to take second place. Thus were Kandy and Ceylon engraved on the sports map of the world.

He broke the Public Schools 220 yards record and won the 120 yards hurdles event and long jump. He also established a 440 yards record and was selected to participate at the first Empire Games held in Australia in 1938. He was the national champion for many years in the following events – 120 yards hurdles, 440 yards hurdles and 400 meters hurdles. He led the first Ceylon Olympic team to London in 1948 and won the Silver Medal in 400 meters hurdles, the first and only Ceylonese to win an Olympic Medal at that time. He won the 440 yards hurdles at the first Indo-Ceylon contest, smashing the Indian record. He became the British and Irish Universities 440 yards hurdles champion and record holder while at Loughborough College, UK. He also captained the Ceylon team to Commonwealth Games in New Zealand and took the Gold Medal in 440 yards hurdles with a new record.

At Trinity College Duncan White won his ‘Lion’ in Athletics. He captained the athletic team. He was also a ruggerite of repute. Duncan White was awarded the MBE for his contribution to sports, the first sportsman in Ceylon to be thus honored. He obtained the Diploma in Physical Education of Loughborough College, UK in 1951 and was appointed Ceylon’s National Athletics Coach in 1958. He left Ceylon subsequently to take up an appointment as Director of Athletics at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

Leslie Donovan Perera Handunge was the first Sri Lankan to enter an Olympic boxing ring and win a bout and was the second son of Kandy to blaze the Olympic trail.

At school he was known as Perera. He joined Trinity College as a schoolboy from Matale, and was guided on the correct path by the coaches. He was in the early days the Director of Physical Education of the Peradeniya University, Leslie Handunge the second son of Kandy to blaze the Olympic trail. He represented Ceylon at the 1948 Olympic Games and was the first Ceylonese to enter an Olympic ring and win an Olympic bout. He led the Ceylon team to the 1952 Olympic Games.

Handunge excelled at Trinity College in four major games – Cricket, Boxing, Rugger and Athletics, and after leaving school, he played inter-club hockey, football and rugger for Kandy Sports Club and Kandy YMCA. Leslie Handunge was a Diploma holder in Physical Education of Loughborough College, UK. He was the first Ceylonese to obtain this Diploma and obtained his Master’s Degree in Physical Education from Springfield, USA. He had to work his way through both these institutions.

He won his first National Title in 1944, the Flyweight category. He won the Best Boxer’s Award at the Intermediate Meet. Albert Perera Farewell Meet and National Championships. He represented the University of Ceylon at boxing and rugby and was the British and Irish University Bantamweight champion boxer while at Loughborough College.


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