Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is keen to see more of his compatriots on the podium at international tournaments ©Getty Images

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has announced the Government plan to open 500 sports centres in schools to help produce more international medallists.

The Prime Minister spoke at the opening of the 34th All-Island School Sports Festival at the Sugathadasa Stadium in Colombo where he revealed details of the new scheme to be run in association with the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka.

"We are planning to set up 500 sports centres in every district of the country in the next three years," Wickremesinghe said.

"These will have high-quality international-standard facilities and our main intention is to develop extra-curricular sports activities through the schools.

"It will help to produce more medal prospective athletes at international competitions."

Sri Lanka was one of nine countries who did not win a medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, despite sending their biggest delegation to the Games.

"We sent athletes in almost every sport to the recent Asian Games but didn’t win a single medal," Wickremesinghe said.

"We want to set up a plan for athletes not only to participate but to win medals as well in the future.

"We have already joined the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka in setting up the Prime Minister’s Sports fund for the betterment of our sports sector.

"We should train students who will not only qualify for international competition but also be able to compete against the best in Asia and the world."

The Sri Lankan Government hopes the new school sports centres will produce a new crop of medallists ©OCA
The Sri Lankan Government hopes the new school sports centres will produce a new crop of medallists ©OCA

The Prime Minister’s Sports Fund was established earlier this year with an initial grant of 50 million rupees ($294,000/€255,000/£224,000).

The money is overseen by the Sri Lankan Olympic Committee and will go towards the establishment of a high-performance academy for selected athletes.

The Government also plans to recruit 3,850 sports trainers to head the school sports centres.

The Sri Lankan Ministry of Education will help the programme aimed at advancing school sport.

The programme hopes to produce more Sri Lankan international medallists as the country has only ever won two Olympic medals.

Duncan White and Susanthika Jayasinghe won silver in the men’s 400 metres hurdles and women’s 200m, respectively.

White won his country’s first medal at London 1948 and Jayasinghe won Sri Lanka’s most recent Olympic medal at the Sydney 2000 Games.