Woman soldier’s Olympic dream
The pride of defending the motherland as a woman soldier and bringing
global recognition by receiving an opportunity to represent Sri Lanka at
the Olympics -Nadeeka Lakmali is the first Sri Lankan woman who was
shortlisted to take part at the Beijing Games in the field events.
Lakmali is a product of Kahaduwa MV, Elpitiya, who excelled in sports
more than in studies. She had exhibited a keen interest for the javelin
throw since her small age and her talents were sharpened by the school
coach Manjula Mohotti which helped her to win the under fifteen Javelin
Championship at the Junior National Meet held in Galle in 1995.
The second opportunity to show her talents was the National Sports
Festival in 1999. “Having been impressed by my talents Brig. Palitha
Fernando - president of the Athletics Association extended an invitation
to join the Army.
I, with one accord accepted that invitation because I had finished my
schooling by that time,” she elaborates. Thus she joined the Army in
2000 and it has been a turning point in her career.
She established a new national record for the event with 58.44m at
the Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Athletic Meet held at the Sugathadasa
Stadium last year. Lakmali broke the national record of 56.20 m held by
Anne Maheshi de Silva of Sri Lanka Navy.
“It was a great achievement to break the national record. Anne
personally called me up and wished me. She is now living in the UK and
her words are very encouraging.”
After establishing a national record, Lance Corporal of 2nd battalion
Sri Lanka Army women’s corps added history to Sri Lanka Army sports
She has displayed her talents nationally as well as internationally
in her pet event in 2003 at the SAARC Games in Pakistan, 2005 - Asian
Games in Korea. 2006 - SARC Games in Colombo.
She also bagged the bronze medal at the Asian Championship in Jordan
last year. She took part in SAARC Games in Cochin, India this year and
won a gold medal. She secured two gold medals at the Open Championship
in Thailand and Taipei. International exposure has been a great boost in
enhancing moral standards and the amount of experience.
At present she is being trained by coaches B.M.G. Bandara - her first
coach in Colombo, A.J. Rajaguru and Major General Palitha Fernando who
she says are not hesitant to go out of their way to provide all
assistance to her. She is currently practising at Pannipitiya Dharmapala
grounds four days a week and at the Sugathadasa Stadium on Thursdays.
“I’m staying at my elder sister’s place at Meepe, Padukka and from
there I have easy access to Pannipitiya Dharmapala College grounds for
my daily practices. I usually get up at 4.30 a.m. and get ready to go
for practice. Usually I am at the Dharmapala College grounds by 7 a.m. I
practise for 3 hours and stop at 10 a.m. for a break and again go on
till 1.30 - 2.00 p.m.”
She is a friendly athlete who is always wearing a hearty smile. She
was a bit disheartened these days due to some unfavourable remarks made
by certain media.
“I’m really disappointed of those irresponsible statements on my
performance conveyed to the public by some privately owned Sinhala
national newspaper and a Sinhala radio channel. They have criticised my
performance by neither watching me performing nor inquiring from my
I had to achieve Olympic qualifying standards to represent the
country at the Olympics. How unjust is that? If they know the subject
they would not have done such a dishonourable thing. This kind of thing
happen when people who do not know a particular subject try to show that
they know everything.
I was really demoralised when my friends told me that my performance
is criticised in paper and on radio. I don’t understand why they do it.
I don’t know whether they are jealous of me. This is not what they
should do as media men. They should not demoralise us like this.
Instead, they should encourage us.Getting an opportunity to take part at
the Olympics is not a simple thing.
As countrymen they should be proud of that. I stand a chance to bring
honour to Sri Lanka at the Olympics as the first Sri Lankan in the field
events. Due to that incident I was fed up of media and didn’t want to
talk to anyone.All media organisations are not like that.
There’re some who really encourage us to bring global recognition to
the country. If someone receives a medal at the Olympics, it doesn’t
belong to the particular sportsperson alone. It belongs to everyone in
However she has been advised by her coaches not to make any serious
comments and to be calm to continue her practices as usual.
Since she is very busy with practices for Olympics, she scarcely has
a time to go to Wekadahena, Elpitiya to pay her family a visit. Her
parents, elder brother and the younger brother are living there.
Her elder sister is married and living in Padukka. Both her brothers
are employed in Elpitiya. Her father is a farmer who is engaged in Chena
cultivations.She is the only one in her family who’s involved in sports
“ Though my brothers won medals at school they never excelled in
sports or went up to national level. Even among my relatives, there’s no
one who’s doing sports.”
Army extends a great assistance to her. She’s been granted duty leave
and is helping her in many ways. Army has been able to fulfil one of her
long felt need - a pair of spikes she uses now. She receives a monthly
allowance from the Ministry of Sports for her expenses.
She is a bit disappointed that officials had promised to send her to
Cuba for further training and they have forgotten it altogether. She
believes that if she receives training under an international coach, her
dream of winning a gold medal at Olympics will not be a mere dream.