By Duncan Mackay
Hambantota is looking forward to hosting the 2018 Commonwealth Games as an opportunity to demonstrate how Sri Lanka can interact with the rest of the world, bid chairman Ajith Nivard Cabraal (pictured) has said with only 100 days left until the vote to decide whether they or rivals Gold Coast should be chosen to stage the event.
Since their surprise decision to put themselves forward in April 2010, Hambantota have moved from rank outsiders to serious contenders and are growing increasingly confident ahead of success at the Commonwealth Games Federation Assembly in St Kitts and Nevis on November 11, where the host city will be chosen.
Cabraal, who is also the chairman of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, believes that Sri Lanka can continue the recent trend of major events being awarded to emerging markets.
"Hitherto it has traditionally been the most advanced nations that have done this [staged the major Games]," he said.
"But it is not necessarily so now.
"There is a general feeling in the world that emerging countries should also be given the opportunity.
"Given the opportunity there is more countries like us who can emerge and do well."
Hambantota was hit hard by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and s currently undergoing a number of major development projects funded by China and India.
But Cabraal claims that hosting the Commonwealth Games is a chance for Sri Lanka to show that it can develop by itself.
"We must move away from this aid mentality where we have to eternally go and ask people for aid," he said.
"That is not the way we should be looking at it.
"We should look at how can we participate with the rest of the world, how do we make ourselves opportunities, how we interact with the rest of the world.
"And that is the opportunity we will receive when we host the Games and I am very much looking forward to doing that."
Cabraal's confidence has been fuelled by the recent visit of a delegation from the Caribbean, who visted Hambantota to inspect the bid.
"The hsopitaly has been overwhelming," said Steve Stoute, the President of the Barbados Olympic Committee.
"I've been to vitrually every Commonwealth Games going back to 1966 and this is the first time I've seen such a compact bid with all the venues and facilities within walking distance from the Games village.
"So, from my perspective, I'm very impressed with what I've seen."
Jamaica's Teddy McCook, a member of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ruling Council, claimed that if Hambantota were to win then they had to sell their message.
"I think it's now up to the Sri Lanka Organising Committee to market what you have produced," he said.
"I think if you are able to do this I am sure you will get the support of the countries that will participate."