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
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
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
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
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).