Hiruni climbs marathon’s Everest | Sunday Observer

Hiruni climbs marathon’s Everest

Hiruni Wijayaratne
Hiruni Wijayaratne

For Hiruni Wijayaratne her native Sri Lanka must be a very small place to live now that she set a Himalayan record of beating a region of over 1.5 billion people by running the marathon and bagging the gold medal making her the first islander to do so at this month’s South Asian Games in Nepal.

Unlike the rest of the sports that were contested at the Games that could have fallen below standards, a Marathon is a marathon and the 29-year old Hiruni covered the distance of 42-plus kilo metres in a time of 2 hours, 41 minutes and 24 seconds braving what was said to be a fever and poor air quality showing that she was no ordinary woman.

“This race was the most difficult race given the conditions that I had to contend with, but I was very happy to get the gold. I have never run a marathon like this. This was the happiest moment in my life,” said Hiruni who became the first Sri Lankan woman to win the gold in a marathon.

Hiruni admitted she had not been performing to her potential in recent times and that the marathon gold had strengthened her resolve and confidence to look ahead. “As an athlete my responsibility is to do my best for the country. I think every marathon gives something to learn and this is the turning point in my life,” said Hiruni who went back to the USA to resume her training while focusing on a slot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Hiruni was also a generous athlete and opted to skip the 5000 metres event so her compatriot Lalani Ratnayake could contest the race which she did and won the gold medal.

Lilani also won the first athletic gold in the 1500m race and probably missed out on another medal as the 3000m steeple chase was not included at the 2019 South Asian Games.

Hiruni is the current holder of Sri Lanka records in the 5000, 10,000, half marathon and full marathon and was placed 11 at the last Commonwealth Games in 2018 in Gold Coast, Australia.

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