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Canadian cycling coach for Sri Lanka?

CYCLING: Former well known sports administrator, C. T. Devaraja, who migrated to Canada in 1994, is once again in the country on one of his yearly visits and is trying his best to send a top cycling coach from Canada to Sri Lanka for a two-year assignment.

Speaking to the Sunday Observer, Devaraja, who is one of the honorary members of the Cycling Association of Canada (CAC), said that he has already had initial discussions with certain members of the controlling body in Sri Lanka and is due to meet with its chief, DIG Pathirane very soon for further discussions. Devaraja is also a honorerary member of the Canadian Olympic Association.

Devaraja is now involved more in Lionism. He was the President of the Wishing Well Lions Club of Scarborogh in Ontario in 1997-98 and now its Membership Director. Every year since his migration to Canada, he has been visiting Sri Lanka with 200 spectacles for the Kotahena West Lions Club which is attached with the Wishing Well Club in Scarborogh. However, this year, Devaraja has brought down only 100 spectacles, and had the good fortune of paying a courtesy call on Mahendra Amarasuriya, first Vice-president of the Lions Club International who is to be installed as its President in July and the first Sri Lankan to hold this prestigious post.

Devaraja was a former Secretary of the Paragon Peddlers Club (1964 to 1993) and it was during this period (1967 to be exact), that Paragon Peddlers created history by winning the Team event at the Tour-de-Lanka with Desmond Gunawardene, Ivan Gamage, Lenox de Kauwe and Stanley Gunawardene, while Desmond won the individual title too. Paragon Peddlers had the best men's and women's cyclists at that time which also included Wasantha Kahapolaarachchi and Mala de Silva. The latter won the gold medal at the All-India Meet among the women, while Wilmon de Silva won the silver among the men.

He had the unique distinction of starting the Galle Cup Cycle Race (trophy donated by Mahendra Amarasuriya) as well as the Paragon Grand Prix and Paragon Criteria Race. Then at the request of Dr. H. S. R. Goonewardena (a former Director of Sports), Devaraja, was one of those responsible for reviving the Ceylon Cycling Association with the formation of the Cycling Federation of Sri Lanka in 1971 in which he was the Secretary upto 1980. The first Circuit Race round Vihara Maha Devi Park too was staged in 1971 during Devaraja's tenure as Secretary of the CFSL.

Devaraja was also responsible for organising the first Track Cycling Meet with India at the Sugathadasa Stadium when Vincent Perera was the Minister of Sports. He also accompanied the team to Malaysia in 1979 where they won the silver medals and two diplomas. He attended the World Cycling Congress in 1974 at Montreal, Canada with M. B. Senanayake and also the Asian Games in 1978.

He also had the honour of being an umpire at the All-India men's final and All-India men's Inter-State Table Tennis finals held at the Saraswathi Hall in Colombo in 1957, where 22 teams from India participated.

Devaraja was the Secretary of the Trincomalee Recreational Board (other members being Anton McHeyzer, Captain Rajan Kadirgamar, Sp Haig Christofoelsz and Principals of schools in the area) when the McHeyzer Stadium was opened in 1958. He was also involved with the Trincomalee Cricket and Athletic Associations too.

He played cricket and table tennis for the Government Services and toured India in 1957. He captained the YMCA 'B' team to championship honours in table tennis in 1955, was an invitee of the West Bengal Cricket Association and Calcutta YMCA for the Cricket World Cup in India in 1999.

Devaraja was the Secretary of the YMCA (1974 to 1981), Treasurer of the Sri Lanka Basketball Federation (1967-68), Secretary of the Football Referees Association (1967-68).

 

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