By Tom Degun in St Kitts and Nevis

Hambantota 2018_presentationNovember 11 - Hambantota laid down the gantlet to rivals Gold Coast in a fantastic final presentation designed to tug on the heartstrings of the 70 voting delegates watching in the room.

The presentation began with a video showing how the city had risen from the ashes of the tsunami that devastated the country in 2004 and the 26 year long civil war that ended in 2009 to become a leading tourist and sporting destination.

But the shining star of the bid was the legendary cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan, the most successful bowler in the history of Test cricket.

Muralitharan spoke passionately about how the country has successfully started to rebuild following the long war and how the Commonwealth Games would help continue this process.

"The Commonwealth Games is not just a Games for Sri Lanka, it provides a chance for us to rebuild our country.

He also joked: "It would be great if they could bring cricket back to the Commonwealth Games.

"That would bring me back from retirement."

The key theme of the presentation was that despite their problems in the past Sri Lanka can deliver the 2018 Commonwealth Games on time and on budget.

Namal Rajapaksa, son of the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and MP for Hambantota District, confirmed the support of his father for the event while Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Ajith Nivard Cabraal, the co-chairman of Hambantota 2018, promised that Sri Lanka is ready to invest in the competition.

But he also urged voters to take the competition to the Hambantota due to the fact that the competition has never been to the country despite going to Australia on four occasions.

"You believe that you must give the legacy opportunities to emerging countries and cities and that is why you have invited us to bid," said Cabraal, who has been the driving force behind the Hambantota 2018 bid in St Kitts.

"Australia are a great nation because you have given them four life-changing opportunities.

"My friends, I ask you to provide us with just one such opportunity."

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