Wijewickrema: a rare breed of weightlifter | Sunday Observer

Wijewickrema: a rare breed of weightlifter

Most Sri Lankans may have forgotten that the country had a rare weight-lifter who won several medals during his hay days which is not the case today where the country is struggling to win medals at international meets as well as establishing record after record.

Athula Wijewickrema, a product of Kingswood College, Kandy took up weightlifting at the age of 12 in 1980 under the guidance of his uncle SA Wijewickrema who revived the sport in 1962 after 10 long years at the YMCA in Kandy.

At the start after several years of training Wijewickrema won the Junior National Championship by establishing several records. He represented Sri Lanka at the Junior World Championships in 1984 in United Kingdom.

He graduated to the senior category and won the Nationals which he dominated for 16 long years establishing over 30 Sri Lanka records and was adjudged the Best Lifter five times, a very rare achievement.

The following are the events Athula represented as a Lifter, Coach and Manager.

He represented Sri Lanka at the Junior World Championship in the UK in 1984, SAF Games in India in 1987, Asian Championship in China in 1988, Moscow Friendship Games in 1988, Silver Dragon World Cup Meet in the UK, SAF Games in Pakistan in 1989, Silver Dragon World Cup meet in UK and SAF Games in Colombo winning a Bronze in 1991, SAF Games in India and won a Bronze in 1995 and SAF Games in Nepal in 1999.

As a Power Lifter Wijewickrema won a Silver medal at the Commonwealth Sports Competition in South Africa in 2017 and bagged a Gold medal at the Asian Weightlifting Championship held in India this year in the 105 kgs.

Wijewickrema also established an Asian record in the Squat lifting 265 kgs erasing a previous record of 250 kgs. As a coach he was at the Asian Inter City meet in Thailand in 2002, SAF Games in Pakistan in 2004, SAF Games in Colombo in 2006, Namju Cup in Iran in 2009, Commonwealth Championship in Samoa in 2006, Commonwealth Championship in Malaysia in 2009, Commonwealth Championship in South Africa in 2011 and SAF Games in Nepal in 2012.

Wijewickrema is also a Grade One Referee in Sri Lanka as well as an International Referee. He followed a coaching course under a Bulgarian in 1981 and in 1988 and in 2002 under a Hungarian coach. He has produced over 2000 weightlifters and most of them have won National and International medals. Among them are S.Wijesuriya (Gold), Chinthana Vidanage (Gold), Nadini Gunasekera (Gold) and Dhammika Harischandra (Gold).

Wijewickrema has also been a Strength and Conditioning Instructor at Trinity College, Kingswood College and St. Anthony’s College.

A one-time Sri Lanka coach he currently functions as a Sports Officer in the Sports Ministry.