Victimised marathon runner wants to return | Sunday Observer

Victimised marathon runner wants to return

Niluka Rajasekara
Niluka Rajasekara

Sri Lanka’s first woman marathon runner Niluka Rajasekara who qualified for the Olympic Games in 2016, has decided to come back to competitive running after keeping away from the sport for two years.

She told the Sunday Observer the reason why she kept away from the sport was due to step motherly treatment meted out to her by the Athletic Association of Sri Lanka (AASL).

Niluka started her athletic career at the age of seven years and has now completed 30 years in the field. She started in the 800m and then on to the 1500m, 5000, 10,000, cross country, half marathon, full marathon and now she only concentrates on the marathon.

She then participated in the Enschede Marathon held in the Netherlands and the Asian Games in 2017 and gave up the sport for eight months due to personal reasons leading to speculation that he had quit.

However, due to her commitment to the sport she had trained and kept fit despite the lack of facilities.

After a break of 18 months she participated at the Kuching international marathon in Malaysia and finished in third place with her personal best timing.

Despite how poorly the system works with the local administrative body, Rajasekara and Anuradha Cooray qualified for the world championship and Olympics exceeding qualification standards.

“Personally my qualification to the World Championship gave me a big boost and popularity. I kept asking for a scholarship to go to Kenya and receive training. But the AASL turned down my request but I renewed the Sri Lanka record 11 minutes without proper training,” said Rajasekara.

“When I ran the marathon in 2 hours, 40 minutes the men from the Maldives could do it in 2 hours 50 minutes.”

The Maldives Athletic Association sent their men’s marathon team for training in Kenya and Morocco. Now one of them finishes a marathon in 2 hours, 32 minutes and the half marathon in one hour 12 minutes.

“If I get the same opportunity definitely I can make a bigger impact and improve on the two hours and 30 minutes. Everyone knows how training in Kenya helps the marathon runners,” she said.

She claimed the AASL only depend on some athletes to bring them honour and glory but do not have a plan to produce good athletes from grass root level.

“I believe in myself and fulfill all my dreams. My husband works in a fitness field in the Maldives and Malaysia. I too help him in the fitness of customers. He is my backbone in my athletic career and has given a lot of support during my tough times with the AASL,” said Rajasekera.