A silent colossus- an upright decision maker
Sportsman, competent engineer and administrator
P. H. D. Waidyatilleka
Asian Games 1998, Bangkok
It would, certainly, have been a great privilege for Waidyatilleka to
work with internationally reputed Sri Lankan Engineers in the calibre of
Dr. A.N.S Kulasinha. As the years roll on, he not only excelled in the
field of Engineering gathering knowledge and experience but also takes
leaps and bounds strides in the field of Sports serving in national and
international sports bodies.
He was a senior vice president of the Athletic Association of Sri
Lanka. Waidyatilleka holds many positions in the field of sports
including the President of the Sri Lanka Masters Athletics (Veterans),
President Athletic Technical Officials Association of Sri Lanka, Member
Technical Committee Asian Athletic Association, Chairman Technical
Committee Asian Masters Athletics, Member of Stadia Committee World
Masters Athletics and International Technical Officer of World Masters
Walking along memory lane, Waidyatilaka recollected that he was born
and bred in the Southern province and he shares remarkable traits of
being a cosmopolitan albeit deeply rooted in his soil of birth.
He hails from a land mass which gave birth to a host of personalities
who were not only recognised for their outstanding contribution to the
nation but also as trend setters in their respective spheres of
Inspired by Dr. A.N.S Kulasinha, Sir Cyril de Zoyza, Sir Lalitha
Rajapaksa, Dr. Colvin R de Silva, Dr. E. M. Wijerama, Ven. Megettuwatte
Gunananda, Prof. Kosgoda Dammawasa, he recalls with humility the days
that he contributed to the construction of the Kalutara Chaithya, under
the guidance of Dr.A.N.S Kulasinha.
He grew up in a family of landed gentry, his father being a respected
Principal, Amaradasa Waidyatilaka and mother Ms. Allen Perera, as the
only son of the family. Being a family who firmly believed in Buddhist
ethos coupled with a discipline-oriented educational background,
Waidyatilaka was naturally the most cared for child in a family
surrounded by sisters.
Officiating as the International Technical Official at the World
Championship in Paris in 2003.
Asian Mastersâ€™ Athletics Technical Committee Chairman.
Following his primary education at Revatha Vidyalaya, Waidyatilaka
was admitted to Richmond College Galle as a hosteller not only providing
him with ample time to excel in studies but also to develop an
impressive sporting career.
During his school days which he spent together with his
contemporaries including President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Minister of
Justice Amarasiri Dodangoda and Minister of Agricultural Development
Chamal Rajapaksa, Waidyatilleka won the 120 yards hurdles as well as the
high jump and the 440 yards run. He captained Richmond College and won
Junior and Senior Hurdles at the Public Schools championships.
His love for sports did not detract him from his studies. He was one
of the brightest students at the time and carried away the coveted Pure
Mathematics and Applied Mathematics prizes at the University Entrance
On completion of his secondary education at Richmond College,
Waidyatilleka was admitted to Nalanda College on the advice of his
Sponsoring a poor athlete under the Foster Parent scheme. Former
Minister of Trade Lalith Athulathmudali is also in the picture.
Chairing a press conference in Bangkok 2004 at the Asian Masters
He entered the University of Ceylon (Peradeniya) as one of the two
students who qualified to enter the Faculty of Engineering from Nalanda
College in that particular year.
As Peradeniya was an exclusively residential university against the
salubrious climate in the hill country, Waidyatilleka was admitted to
the famous "Akbar Hall". Apart from his academic records, one of his
major achievements was the championship in the 110 metre and 400 metre
hurdles which he won consecutively in all four years that he spent at
the University, thus becoming the best athlete during his time.
Whilst at the university, he had the privilege of engaging in the
noble profession of teaching to impart the knowledge he gained through
his academic programme to deserving students in schools with less
amenities and human resources. Though he earned his Bachelor of Science
(Engineering) Degree, he opted to stay another year at the university as
an instructor prompted by his dedication, perseverance and academic
Waidyatilleka started his career as an Engineer at the State
Engineering Corporation in 1967 and he married a Visakhian Sportswoman
Miss Visakha Gunaratna who was adjudged the Runner-up Sports Queen at
the Sports Queen Contest conducted by the Daily News.
Waidyatilleka has two sisters; Malini and Padmini and they are
teachers by profession. His son Indu Waidyatilaka is a doctor while his
daughter Mihiri who is a Computer professional is now domiciled in the
As the chief engineer of the Kalutara Chaithya project. (4th from
left) Kingsley Wickramasinghe, V. L. Wijemanne, Sir Cyril de Zoysa
After his marriage, Waidyatilaka flew to United Kingdom to read for
his master's degree in Engineering and obtained his Msc. (Eng) from the
University of Birmingham. In 1970 he obtained the charter from the
Institution of Civil Engineers London and later earned the Fellowship
from The Institute of Engineers Sri Lanka.
In retrospect of his longstanding career as an Engineer, he evoked
vivid memories of his involvement under the leadership of the then
Chairman of the State Engineering Corporation, the legendary Dr. A.N.S.
Kulasinghe in the construction of Watadageya (outer layer of the
Chaithiya) of the Kalutara Chaithya.
It is still a little known fact that this onerous task was entrusted
with young Engineer Waidyatilleka who completed the work well before the
He was directly involved either in the design or in construction of
many successful projects undertaken by the State Engineering
Corporation, including the Head Quarters of People's Bank, Lotteries
Board building, Labour Secretariat Building as well as mega housing
schemes such as Raddoluwa and Mattegoda housing schemes.
He also planned and constructed the Mirissa and Tangalle fisheries
harbours and the Paddy Stores in Polonnaruwa.
Following his retirement from State Engineering Corporation,
Waidyatilaka who was a founding Director of Kelani Paper Converters was
appointed Managing Director and became a successful entrepreneur.
Defining moments in life
Redolent on one of the defining moments in his sporting career that
tested his character and integrity was when he made a ruling as IAAF
International Technical Official at the world Athletics Championship
2003 in Paris. Jamaican Thomas Dwight got off to a false start in the
men's 100 metres.
At the second attempt, the athletes were recalled for another false
start as Jon Drummond of America and Jamaican Asafa Powell were caught
inside one tenth of a second. At this point, Drummond showed his
discontent and refused to leave the field.
Waidyatilaka however stood by his decision. When the French Officials
failed to convince Drummond, Waidyatilaka had to intervene and explain
the rules and persuade him to leave the track. He thus de-fused an
otherwise explosive situation. He was later commended by the IAAF
hierarchy for his judgment and unwavering steadfastness.
It's his hard work and dedication which brought him to the top as an
International Technical Official and International Lecturer.
He passed the IAAF Level 1 Lecturers examination with flying colours
and was an automatic choice for the Asian Technical Officials (ATO)
Waidyatilaka scored 100 per cent marks at the ATO written examination
in 1997 a record which can never be surpassed. At the International
Technical Officials Examination held in 2001 Waidyatilaka topped the
pass list for Asia and was appointed as ITO for the period 2002-2005.
Again in 2005 he did Sri Lanka proud by topping the Asian list and
was appointed ITO for the period 2006-2009.
Waidyatilaka is also engaged in community work. He is the President
of the YMBA-Balapitiya, Member of the Crippled Children's Aid
Association, Vice President of Suhadha Sahajeewana Sanwardhana
Sanwidanaya an association formed to help needy children. Waidyatilaka
inaugurated a scholarship fund in memory of his late father and now the
association is awarding nearly 40 scholarships annually to the scholars.
Waidyatilaka is one of the Chief Dayakas at the Gangarama Temple in
Pamankada and contributes to uplift the standard of the Temple.
He has helped needy families by constructing homes for them with his
own funds. Currently, he is constructing an "Avasa" for Buddhist Monks
in the Panagoda area.
Commenting on the debacle at the just concluded Asian Games in Doha,
Qatar Waidyatilaka says it was a folly to have sent such a large team of
Sportsmen & women from Sri Lanka. The only sport we can clearly say that
Sri Lanka has reached Asian standard is athletics. Weight Lifting and
Boxing too can be considered Asian standard.
I won't blame the N.O.C. (National Olympic Committee) for sending a
large team. It is the responsibility of the respective National
Associations to select the proper teams.
There was a sense of euphoria in the country when Sri Lanka fared
well at the South Asian Games in August this year and won a large number
of medals. Without belittling the achievement by our sportsmen & women
we have to be realistic and accept that the standard of competition at
the SAG is way below that of Asian Games in most sports.
Maybe the National Associations felt they should reward the athletes
who performed well at the SAG by giving them an opportunity to
participate at the Asian Games.
Maybe they felt the experience gained by them will stand in good
stead in the future. Experience is good for those who are close to Asian
standards. For the rest, in his opinion, it did more harm than good by
exposing them to such high level of competition.
Initially, we should concentrate on regional level competitions
before throwing them at the deep end.
"For example, we can have swimming competitions with States in India
such as Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Also with Singapore, Thailand and
Malaysia, our close neighbours. This way the athletes will benefit much
more than competing in a level way beyond them" says Waidyatillaka.
Also National Associations should plan for the future. We must have a
second string of athletes to take over from the seniors who will retire
within a few years. Talent scouting should be done at school level as
the school system is the cradle of all sports. Once the athletes are
selected they should be carefully nurtured, trained and properly looked
This is how the former minister of sports S.B. Dissanayake raised the
level of sports in Sri Lanka culminating in achieving a medal at the
2000 Sydney Olympics.
Another milestone in his sporting career was Waidyatilleka's
appointment as an International Technical Officer (ITO) by IAAF, being
the first Sri Lankan to hold the position.
He is also credited with being the only Sri Lankan Athletic Technical
Officer to officiate at a Commonwealth Games when he was invited to
officiate at the xvi Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998. He was appointed as
an International Technical Officer by the IAAF to the panel of
International Technical Officials for the period 2006-2009. He is also
the only Sri Lankan to qualify as an IAAF Lecturer and as an
International Technical Officer.
The president of the North East Athletics Confederation, T. M.
Devendran, with much gratitude jogged his memory that Waidyatillaka, as
the Chairman of the Technical Committee of the Athletic Association of
Sri Lanka introduced Tamil Language for the Technical Examinations in
Sri Lanka in 1997 and he arranged examination centres in Jaffna and
Vavunia at a very difficult period. He had also visited Jaffna and
conducted several number of seminars in the North.