Athletic and rugby legend, Summa Navaratnam, passes away

Athletic and rugby legend, Summa Navaratnam, passes away

Athletic and rugby legend, Summa Navaratnam, passes away

Summa Navaratnam, a prominent figure in Sri Lanka’s sports history, passed away at the age of 98 on Thursday, leaving behind a lasting legacy in the nation’s athletic and rugby communities.

Born on May 21, 1925, in Jaffna, Vaddipudai, Navaratnam pursued his education at Royal College, where he excelled in athletics and rugby. During his school years, he secured numerous accolades, including gold medals in the 200m and 400m categories at the Public Schools Games in 1943. His athletic prowess continued as he became the 100m national champion in 1944, 1946, 1947, 1951, and 1953.

In a remarkable feat, Navaratnam broke the 100m Ceylon record, achieving a time of 11.00 seconds on October 6, 1951. He repeated this accomplishment on September 5, 1953, holding the record for eight years until 1959. His reputation as a sprinter soared when, in 1953, during the Indo-Sri Lanka Athletic Meet in Madras, he set a new All India Record in the 100m with a time of 10.4 seconds, earning the title of Asia’s fastest runner.

At the 1950 Empire Games, now known as the Commonwealth Games, held in Auckland, Duncan White clinched the gold medal in the 400m Hurdles. Summa Navaratnam participated in the 100m and 200m events and also joined forces in the 4×100 relay. In a closely contested race, Navaratnam, along with his relay teammates Oscar Wijesinghe, John de Saram, and Duncan White, secured a fourth-place finish by the narrowest of margins.

Navaratnam’s contributions extended beyond athletics, as he ventured into rugby. Representing CR and FC, he played a pivotal role in the club’s consecutive championship victories in 1954, 1955, and 1956, making history in Sri Lanka club rugby. He captained CR and FC during this triumphant period.

In addition to his on-field achievements, Navaratnam took up coaching roles, guiding several champion teams, including those at Royal College, Wesley College, Sri Lanka Police, and CR and FC, as well as various Sri Lankan national teams.

Navaratnam’s commitment to sports administration saw him serve as the president of the Ceylon Rugby Football Union in 1972 and later as the inaugural president of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU) in 1974. Known for his principled approach, he emphasized the importance of clubs maintaining suitable grounds and conducting Annual General Meetings with financial transparency.



error: Content is protected !!