Peiris the Lankan hope in swimming

Mr. Roy de Silva President (1983 - 1997)

A well-known figure in Sports Administration at the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games and the Olympic Council of Asia, Roy as he was popularly referred to has had an illustrious career.

For the contribution he made in these spheres Roy was nominated in June, 1998, by the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) for the ANOC Merit Award. It is an award that is made to persons who have made lasting contributions to the development of the Olympic Movement and sums up his contribution as a sports leader, President of the NOC Sri Lanka, Vice President of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and Vice President of the Hockey Federation. He received that award in the year 2000, at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

To Roy, it was a hard grind to the top. As a National Hockey player, he realized that there was a need to build up the administration of both Hockey and Olympic Sports. This Opportunity to do just that came about when he took over the mantle of the President of the Hockey Federation. Soon he represented the sport at the NOC Sri Lanka where his elevation was rapid. First he was nominated as the Vice President and as its President from 1983 to July 1997.

From the very beginning of his Sports Administration career, he laid great importance on attending all meetings, be it National or International, representing a multitude of organizations. This no doubt, earned him the opportunity of getting to know sports leaders as well as closely associating with them. These circumstances made it possible for him to carve out a niche, In the International Sporting arena, first being recognized, as a leader from South Asia and being elected the Vice President of the OCA. This position opened a number of sport related benefits to the country as a whole. It also gave him the very rare opportunity of declaring open the Asian Games in Beijing, introducing his leadership qualities not only to Asia. but to the rest of the world as well. As the acting President, the decision to ban the NOC of Iraq after the war had to be clarified to the world media by him. As is well known, his statement on the bid of China for the Centennial Games,’ ’If China could have built the Great Wall in ancient times, why not the Olympics in modern times’’ made him a hero overnight, in the eyes of the vast Chinese population and as a charismatic sport administrator around the world.

Roy believed that as much as the OCA and SAF Organisations, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) too had a big role to play. Particularly, among developing Nations and their NOC’s. This he aired at the Executive Committee Meetings of the Finance Committee of the CGF, in which he served since 1990.

When it came to the selection of a venue for the Canadian Scholarship Programme, initiated by the Commonwealth and NOC Federation of Canada, Roy ensured that the worthy beneficiary be Sri Lanka, where due to this outcome several coaching programmes that were beneficial to six National Associations were organized.

As a firm believer in the Regional Games concept, he actively brought together a few sports enthusiasts from the SAF Region by establishing the South Asian Sports Federation which successfully concluded seventh SAF Games. This Sports organization has made sports more meaningful in this part of Asia. As one would note the Asian Games have taken a second place, providing fewer opportunities to athletes from the SAF region to blossom.

In appreciation of his services, Roy was elected as the first Life President of SAF.

The OCA, has made its contribution in making the Asian Games ‘’ One of the most Important and biggest Regional Games’’ in the sporting calendar. The world at large would no doubt comment favorably on the initiative taken by the OCA to compile a book entitled ‘The History of the Asian Games’, giving a complete account of its activities. Some of which are nostalgic and are worthy of reading! The suggestion to embark on this venture was made by Roy as Chairman and his Media Committee of the OCA, who persuaded the Executive Board.

The dedication and commitment of Roy de Silva will be remembered for generations to come. He was a good leader, who firmly believed in working as a team. He was positive in his thinking and was quick to take decisions. He believed in convincing his committees to get things done. He used his persuasion and charismatic approach in dealing with a given task that needed to be done. It did not always make him popular but it got the job done.

Sports Administrators, in this part of the world, are more often faced with brickbats than bouquets .Roy was one who always thought positively for the greater good of the sport and the country. As fellow Sri Lankans we hail this sporting ambassador, who has done his motherland proud by putting Sri Lanka Olympic Sports and the NOC on the world Sporting map. The fact that his commitment has been acclaimed and rewarded internationally makes it a possibility for others of the same caliber to follow. As Sri Lankans we take pride in Roy’s achievements and express our sincere gratitude to a unique personality who has placed his country before self.