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Wednesday, 30 August, 2000, 12:47 GMT 13:47 UK
Olympic row in Sri Lanka
Sydney Aquatic Centre
Fighting to represent Sri Lanka in the pool
By Alastair Lawson in Colombo

A senior Sri Lankan general has taken legal action against a decision to exclude his daughter from the Sydney Olympics.

Chief of defence staff, General Rohan Dalwatte, says his daughter should be part of the country's Olympic swimming team.

In a writ filed to the court of appeal, he argues that his daughter has better times in the 50 and 100 metres freestyle than a rival competitor who has been selected.

Rohan Dalwatte with President Kumaratunga
General Dalwatte is a powerful figure in Sri Lanka
The row over who should represent Sri Lanka at the Olympic games has been controversial from the outset.

Even before the team was selected, some sportsmen and women complained that there are as many officials going to Sydney as there are athletes.

Now the differences over selection are to be determined by a court.

Legal row

General Rohan Dalwatte is one of Sri Lanka's pre-eminent generals and is nominally in charge of all three of the country's armed services, as well as the police and paramilitary forces.

She shouldn't miss the opportunity because her place was coveted by the daughter of an establishment figure

Nimal Ratnasekera
He says that his teenage daughter, Radisha, has better times in freestyle pre-Olympic swimming trials than a rival competitor.

The general wants the decision of the National Olympic Committee to select Theekshana Ratnasekera instead of his daughter to be overturned.

But in a BBC interview Theekshana's father, Nimal, accused the general of trying to use his powerful position to get his daughter selected.

Mr Ratnasekera said that he was determined that Theekshana should take part in the games.

She shouldn't miss the opportunity because her place was coveted by the daughter of an establishment figure, he said, and that he, too, was prepared to take legal action if necessary.

The disagreement is the latest is a series of criticisms over Sri Lanka's preparations for the Olympics.

Last week, a senior sprinter, Sriyantha Dissanayake, complained that excessive officialdom was like a cancer at the heart of Sri Lankan athletics.

He said this after he was denied permission to enter the car park of a top Colombo sports stadium because he didn't have the correct permit.

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29 Aug 00 | Swimming
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