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Jani Chathurangani

Speed Queen : Running To Reach The Stars

by Farah Macan Markar

'Running has always been apart of my life,' says 22 year old athlete Jani Chathurangani, 100M Gold Medallist in the 2004 SAF Games held in Islamabad, Pakistan. Coming from the village of Madampe, Jani has also participated in the Asian Championships 2000 (Sri Lanka) and 2002 (Philippines), Military Games 2003 (Italy) in which she won the 200M Silver Medal representing the Sri Lanka Air Force and the Philippines Open Championship in which she won the 200M Gold and the 100M Bronze Medal.

Born on the 21st of August 1981, Jani Chathurangani Chandra Silva studied in Madampa Senaniaka Madya Maha Vidyalaya. During her school days Jani has played netball and volleyball and has been running ever since she ran in the under eleven race. Having a passion for sports and deciding to make it her career, instead of doing A/Levels, Jani joined the Junior Athlete Pool soon after her O/Ls. In 2003 she took part in the Nationals Trials, winning both, the 100M and the 200M Races.

About the SAF Games, Jani says it was the most amazing race of her life. At the beginning I was really nervous, for in the heats I came second, and my goal in any race has always been to become first. In the end of the day, her nerves, together with the support and encouragement she got from her coach and role model 'Akka Susanthika', Jani won the race at her best ever timing of 11.88 seconds.

So, what's the most important part in running, that little magical something, which gives winners the edge? According to Jani, it is Speed and Training. It is vital to have a good start and for this it is important to do speed training. Weight training is also important for it develops the muscles and makes them flexible and strong.

Jani goes for training five times a week, twice a day. From 7.00 am-10.00 am in the mornings and 4.00 pm- 6.00 pm in the evenings Jani does it all, from warm ups to weight trainings, to running drills, running practices, warm downs and massages.

How does she feel about the role of athletics in the country? Jani believes Sri Lanka has a lot to offer in athletics. We, Sri Lankans have the talent for this sport which is well recognized and given the support and encouragement it needs. We get a lot of help from the Athletic Association and the Forces, in my case the Sri Lanka Air Force.

Jani comes from an athletic family with an elder brother who played volleyball and national athletics in school. While her natural talent and training from school days have developed her skill and speed in the game, it is 'Susanthika Akka', Jani says, who has given her the encouragement and support she needs.

"Susanthika Akka has helped me a lot. She told me that if I had hard train regularly I can be a winner." Of the other athletes in Sri Lanka Jani says they are united, train together and encourage one another. There are no jealousies. We are working for the same goal, to represent Sri Lanka. Thus we all work harmoniously together.

Jani maybe a hard working athlete who runs international meets and clinches medals, but in other ways she likes any other young girl, enjoys watching TV, going out with her friends and going shopping in Majestic City and Odel. Her ultimate dream is to represent Sri Lanka in the Olympics, which she says her coach Dervin Perera believes she is well on her way, to achieving if she trains for it.

What about life after athletics? Jani loving the sport as she does cannot imagine a life without it. When my time is up, I'll become a coach. That way I'll still be in the game, training youngsters in the sport I love.

Lastly of running, Jani says, it is not for the figure conscious girl. In athletics you do weight training to develop your muscles. Thus you cannot be figure conscious. Your focus should be on your fitness and skill in the sport. If you love the game, stay focused, train hard and put your self into it, you can reach the stars.

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