June 26, 2007 (AFP) – A Sri Lankan athletics coach participating in an international training programme has disappeared in Italy, a senior official said Tuesday in Colombo. Gayan Malika, a triple jump coach, went missing after flying to Italy for an athletics meet as part of a training programme sponsored by the International Olympic Council, the Sri Lanka Amateur Athletics Association said.
The training camp was based in Malaysia and had been warned participants could exploit trips abroad to disappear, said Prema Pinnawela, the secretary of the association.
“I had written and warned the organisers of the Malaysian camp about the tendencies of some of our athletes to make use of opportunities and disappear to other countries,” Pinnawela told AFP.
Malika was one of six people from the training programme who vanished from their Italian hotel last week, the Olympic council told Pinnawela, with Bangladeshis and Pakistanis among the others.
“Over the past 15 years, about 25 to 30 Sri Lankan athletes have made use of international tours to disappear to a foreign country, which is a shame and makes it difficult for us to recommend others,” Pinnawela said.