Category: Pera Swimming Published Date Written by super user Hits: 1076
Hansani Weerathunga is an outstanding sportswoman in the university swimming arena who owns the honor of having three SLUG games records and two inter university games records. She has also represented Sri Lanka in international swimming events where she has won number of medals. At present, she's doing her undergraduate studies at the faculty of Engineering, university of Peradeniya.
Can you remember how you first started swimming?
Yes. I was introduced to swimming when I was seven years old. I first started practices at my school's pool, at Mahamaya Girls' College, Kandy. The first steps of swimming was taught to me by Wilson Sir.
You have done number of events over the years. Is there apet event of yours?
Out of the four swimming styles I prefer freestyle swimming. But I have competed in medley events as well. Out of the events, my favorite event would be the 200m freestyle event.
At a very early age you were able to reach the top in the national arena. Can you refresh some of the national level successes you’ve achieved
Well, I won the 1st place in 100m freestyle event in the national swimming competition in 2006. And I was able to win the 1st place in both 100m freestyle and 200m freestyle events in the same competition in 2007.From there onwards I’ve won number of national titles. The highest point in national level is no doubt the 200m freestyle national record that I was able to establish during the short course national swimming competition in 2007.
And later on you went on to win a SAG medal representing Sri Lanka?
Yes. I’ve had some international experiences prior to that. But that was no doubt the best I’ve achieved. I was a member of the 200X4 freestyle relay team which won the 2nd place in the 2006 SAG games which was held in Sri Lanka. Following that, I won 2nd place in the 100m medley event in the 2007 South Asian swimming championship which was held in Pakistan. I was a part of the 100m and 50m relay teams which won the 3rd place in the same event as well.
I a long list! Yet you’ve managed to balance your studies with your sporting activities. What is the secret behind your success?
There’s no big secret behind it. I always had the interest for studies. After practicing in the morning, I made sure that I do my school work properly. I think time management is the key. I tried to organize my work so that I spent every second in a profitable way. I had to stop sports for a brief period because of my advanced levels. But up to that point I was very active in the sports arena. And doing a sport was never a big issue. When I was at school, I was a school captain as well. I believe that if we can plan our time properly, nothing is impossible.
Your good form then continued in the university arena. You were a triple SLUG medalist in the 2010 SLUG games, where you established three event records.How was that experience?
I was able to establish event records in 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle and 200m meddling events in SLUG 2010 followed by inter university records in 100m freestyle and 200m freestyle events later in 2011.
For me, SLUG 2010 was a very special experience. It was just couple of months after I entered Pera; and to be able to bring fame to the university in such a short time felt really great.
You captained the university swimming team in the 2010/2011 season. But at the same time you are the current field top in the mechanical engineering stream. How challenging is this?
Actually sports inspires me to do my studies better. When I study all the time, I tend to get stressed up. Sports helps me to relieve the stress and it adds up an element of enjoyment to my life. Its something I love doing.
You were one of the few athletes who represented Sri lanka in the 26th Universiade which was held in Shenzhen, China in 2011. How was that experience?
I thought it was a great honor for me to be able represent Pera at the world stage. We got the chance to meet sportswomen from other countries, and there we got to know about their cultures and their sporting standards. Something I noticed was that their approach to sports were more professional compared to ours. All in all it was a great experience.
We win lot of medals in swimming in the South Asian level, but we don’t see them going further forward. Is there a reason behind this? Moreover, is there a reason why swimmers give up the sport at a very young age?
I’ll answer the latter question first. Actually swimmers reach their peak at a relatively lower age. For girls its around 22 years.Because of this, its hard to continue with swimming as a career like most of other sports-person would do. I why lot of swimmers retire at a relatively younger age. As for medals, I think if Sri Lankan swimmers are provided with better facilities and coaches, we too have swimmers who can excel in the international level.
As far as you’re concerned, what should be done to empower swimmers in Sri Lanka?
Lot of swimmers give up swimming to concentrate on their studies. I believe this is common to other sports too. People talk about the importance of having a balanced personality. But the present examination structure doesn’t support the cause at all. I think a system should be developed so that sports persons who perform at the international level will have a better chance of getting selected to universities; Maybe a separate quota for athletes.
This is the same problem with university level sports . If a sportsman with university colours will be benefited when awarding classes or when calculating the final GPA, I believe sportsmen will be more enthusiastic, and that as a result, the university sports standard will rise.
What will be your message to all the budding swimmers out there?
Continue with your sporting activities. Don’t give it up. At the same time, make sure that you do your studies well too.
Looking back, I’m sure there are lot of special people to thank?
I would like to thank my parents and my malli and nangi, My school, Mahamaya Girls’ College, the sports council and the physical education department of university of Peradeniya. My special thanks should go to my coaches, Mr.U.H.Sugath and Mr.U.H.Pemlath, and to all my friends who’ve backed me up all the way.
We , Team Perabeats wish her all the very best for her future…
By Pramuditha Perera.