By Ama Kalpani


It was a perfect evening to gather to celebrate a once –in- four- years venture. We did not have tracks or swimming pools or basketball courts like in Brazil. Yet we too, gathered at the premises of Independence square to celebrate Olympics 2016 in style with our own Gaveliers of University of Moratuwa.

Design credits: Yasoda Gamage

A colored ribbon in the hand of everyone divided the gathering into two teams. All set for Olympics. The project chairs, Kithmin Wickramasinghe and Chamode Wijayasekera were the honorable judges.

On your mark, get set…..Go! It started with an Olympic quiz with so many interesting questions. After going through so many clues both the teams found the true spirit of Olympics: it is the participation that truly matters and not the medals. Then we settled for the official 295th meeting.

This was not another ordinary meeting. The surrounding, the Round Robin session, the Table Topics session all took a new look! Even the national flag had a companion this time, a flag with five colorful rings.

The President, Merl Chandana, commenced the 295th Gavel Meeting, the Olympic meeting, and after the national anthem led by Ashwin De Silva, the President introduced the Toastmaster of the day, Kanchana Ranasinghe.

Do you know how exciting it is to win a gold medal, specially an Olympic gold medal? “How would you feel if you get an Olympic gold medal for 20 seconds?”

The Round Robin session of the meeting was full of excitement. I wondered why these talented Gaveliers did not get a chance to represent Sri Lanka at the Olympics because there were so many energetic tennis players, chess players, athletes, swimmers, and even Elle players to my surprise!

After a sporty Round Robin session the Toastmaster introduced the Table Topics Master of the day, Ashwin De Silva. This time the Gaveliers were given an on the spot topic related to Olympics and Ashwin did a fantastic job in introducing the topic along with those little known facts and stories about Olympic.

Malith Jayaweera kicked off the game. “Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust.” Starting with a daily incident of traffic in Piliyandala road, Malith nicely related it to the fact that being ethical does not always work and later related it with the incident of Shaunae Miller at the Olympics, stating that awards may have been won but what really matters arethe true friends you gather.

Shehan Jayasinghe, the next Olympian, reminded us of our very own Sri Lankan athlete R.Karunananda and how he never gave up at the 1964 Olympics justifying the topic “My message at these games; Never give up.” Olympics is all about not giving up.

“My goal is to beat my idol.” Merl Chandana, the athlete of the club spoke about how a German athlete embracing the true spirit of Olympics gave an advice to the world known Jesse Owens to change his take-off leg in his last attempt in the qualification round of long jump. Although your goal is to beat your idol, sometimes you have to give up beating your idol like how the German athlete could not win but Owens did because of his advice.

Yasoda Gamage, the badminton player of the club shared her thoughts on “There’s no war that will end all wars.” When it comes to sports we never care about one’s nationality or the religion or where he came from. There’s no such war in sports and we all stand as one.

“Not Mark Spitz the second, but Michael Phelps the first.” For a moment being in the audience I wondered who Mark Spitz was. So did Piyumi Bandaranayake. But to the surprise of all of us,  she did not know Michael Phelps either. Yet depicting the true colors of a Mora Gavelier she did a wonderful speech taking the idea of the topic that whether it’s Mark the second or Michael the first, be who you are. Discover yourself. Being yourself is what truly matters.

The tennis player of the club, Chamode Wijesekara, talked about one of his own personal experiences at Sri Lankan University Games held recently. “Would you still go for a bronze, even when you’re having a few broken bones?” He ended up getting a silver medal at the tennis tournaments held because of having a few broken bones. But the next time he wants to convert that silver to gold no matter how hard it is; and that is the spirit of a true sportsman.

If I ask you what your most memorable win is, what will it be? For Kanchana Ranasinghe it is not the trophy or that winning moment. For him it’s all about those memories he made through the journey of winning. The time he spent with his cast doing practices and also the crazy things.

Can anyone of you remember the slogan of Beijing Olympics? Well our Table Topics Master could! “One world, one dream.” It was Sandaru Karunasiri ready to run. Starting off with the story of Usain Bolt giving up cricket and then becoming an athlete, not just an athlete but a golden athlete, he twisted the topic saying we all have dreams, so many dreams but at times it’s important to give up them like Bolt did giving up cricket.

“Hard work makes it easy.” Back then when Dulanjan Uduge was schooling he attended a provincial level chess tournament; and guess who his opponent was?. It was a pretty lady 4 years elder than him with more experience in chess. Yet he won the game and she was furious. Through this story he brought out the fact that either it’s a win or lose, a real player should be able to accept the result.

Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen. People who make it happen are the real winners. They are the happy winners. Those were the words of Kithmin Wickramasinghe who spoke on “Winners are grinners.”

Next who leaped on to the track was Hasindu Siyambalape. “Don’t think limits.” Talking about one of his personal stories on setting standards, he pointed out the fact that there should not be any limits when it comes to sports.

Last Olympian to perform was Ama Kalpani. We all know the stories behind those great athletes but do we actually take the spirit of their stories into our lives? She delivered her speech on “Fly like a butterfly and sting like a bee” asking her fellow Gaveliers to take the true spirit of Olympics into their lives.

It was indeed a stellar table topics session.

After the reports of the role players the Toastmaster handed over the meeting to the President with the note “It’s okay to fall. What is important is to get up and keep running like Mohamed Farah did” and inviting all of us to be that stellar person one day.

That was how the Mora Gaveliers celebrated Olympic 2016 in style!

Photo credits: Kasun Rosa and Ashwin de Silva

Role Players of the day

Project chairs: Kithmin Wickramasinghe, Chamode Wijayasekera

Toastmaster : Kanchana Ranasinghe

Table Topics Master : Ashwin De Silva

Timer : Lihini Dinushika

Ah counter : Kasun Ranasinghe

Grammarian : Rochelle Silva

General evaluator : Timal Mohan

Speech Evaluators : Merl Chandana, Sandaru Karunasiri

Word of the day: Stellar

Table Topics

  1. “My message at these games; never give up”
  2. Would you still go for a bronze, even when you’re having a few broken bones?
  3. There’s no war that will end all wars
  4. My goal is to beat my idol
  5. Not Mark Spitz the second, but Michael Phelps the first
  6. Fly like a butterfly and sting like a bee
  7. Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust
  8. One world. One dream
  9. Hard work makes it easy
  10. Don’t think limits
  11. What is your most memorable win?
  12. Winners are grinners

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