Blind faith leads to sporting excellence | Sunday Observer

Blind faith leads to sporting excellence

In Sri Lankan culture people still don’t understand the potential that people with a disability have. I came across an exceptional individual Lt.Colonel Dushyantha Yapa. His story of determination and faith is an inspiration to all Sri Lankans.

In 1998 Yapa was a Lieutenant attached to the Sinha Regiment and was in an offensive action at Mankulam town. A sudden artillery round explosion rendered him unconscious. At the Army Hospital for the first time the 24 year officer realized that he was blind. He was subsequently sent to the Ranaviru Sevana at Ragama for a period of 2 years. It was here that he learnt to use the computer and type. After intense training from the Blind Council he was able to work as an IT Officer at RVS.

Dushyantha Yapa was subsequently promoted as Captain and Major. During this time he overcame many personal and emotional challenges and spent time at physical training. He became an expert in the 100m and 200m long jump event (blind category) and holds an Army and national records. He is thankful to the officers and soldiers who rallied around him and encouraged him. Later on a British Navy officer had visited Ranaviru Sevana, and spoken to Major Yapa.

The British officer then extended an invitation for him to come to St.Dunstans UK for training in archery for the blind. Yapa said “I was taught to aim at the target, with the help of a spotter.

I also learnt air-rifle shooting”. One can imagine how it would feel for a man who once fired assault rifles now aim at a target, which he cannot see. This is the fighting spirit of this 43 year old father of 2 children.

In addition Yapa has also excelled to represent the army at Paralympics Games in Malaysia 2006 and China 2010. Along with his sporting prowess on the field this dynamic officer has learnt to play chess.

The officer explains “It is true we cannot be 100 percent independent, yet we can live with a purpose in life”. Lt. Colonel Yapa presently lives at Abimansala, Kurunegala and serves the Army. He is an inspiration to many soldiers and to all Sri Lankans.