I became an athlete because of my sister – Reshika Udugampola | Sunday Observer

I became an athlete because of my sister – Reshika Udugampola

18 October, 2020

Reshika Udugampola is a familiar name in sports administration in Sri Lanka. She is a former Olympian in swimming and is currently attached to the Athletic Commission. Reshika has been honoured by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and has  been nominated  to the  IOC’s  South Asian Marketing Committee. The Youth Observer met her to discuss her new achievements.  

Q: Reshika, you have been  offered a new post in the  International Olympic Committee.  Can you please say something about it?  

A: Yes, I  am the  International Olympic Committee’s (IOC’s) Marketing Sub-Committee’s   nominee from the South Asian Region. It is a great opportunity for my country.

 Q: It can  be called  a great opportunity for SL  sports administration.  What are your responsibilites in this subcommittee?  

A: They have not been clarified by the IOC yet.I But I think it may be  to develop the marketing strategy of the  IOC channel in  the South Asian region.  I cannot explain clearly what the responsibilities of this post are.

Q: How did you start swimming?

A:  When  I was eight years old  I  began swimming. At that time, we were in Galle and I went to Southlands Balika College. My sister was diagnosed with asthma and was advised by the  doctors to start swimming. My parents   followed  that advice and I also  joined in  the swimming practises. That was the start of my  swimming.

Q: How did  you start competitive  swimming?  

A: After  I started swimming my coaches decided that I had a talent for swimming. After that they encouraged me  to swim. I also followed their guidance and day-by-day made  progress.

Q: Who are  your  swimming  coaches?  

A: A reputed  coach, the  late  Wilson,  was  my first  coach. He had  honed  my talents  to national level easily. After his death, I went to Manoj Abeysingha and he  guided me to Olympic level. Before the Olympics, I went to  Australia and  had special training for a year.  

Q: You  participated in  the 2011 Olympics. Then  you were a  student  at Gateway College?  Why did you change from  Southlands College  to Gateway International?  

A: We are from  Colombo.  But my parents went to Galle  for their work. So, I had to enter Southlands College  at that time. After we came back to Colombo  I joined Gateway College. Yes, I have participated in  the Olympics in 2011. Before that,  I  postponed my studies  for  two years  to concentrate on swimming.

Q: How did you enter the  sports management field?  

 A: After the Olympics I was attached to the National Olympic Committee (NOC) Athletic commission. Today, I am member of this committee. I have participated in several projects at the Athletic Commission.

During that period the NOC nominated me as a member of the IOC Marketing Subcommittee. The IOC has considered that suggestion and they have selected me for that subcommittee in the South Asian region.

This is how I got involved with sports administration.   

Q: How did  you select this path? Did anyone advice you to choose this?  

 A: No, After the IOC regulation, the NOC called every Federation to nominate their  representative  for the Athlete Commission.

The Swimming Association nominated me as their representative for this Commission. The NOC considered it and I and a few  other  members of other federations were nominated  to this Athletic Committee.

Q: What is the role of this Athletic Commission?  

A: We are the representatives of the athlete. If they have any problem with their sports and or any other thing we have to  discuss  it with the  Federation and the  NOC  from the athlete’s point of view.  That is the main reason to establish this commission.

Q: Would  you say this commission  is like a legal committee  for  the athlete?  

 A: Yes. We are trying to protect the rights of the athletes. It is like a legal body.  

Q: Can you explain  what  your committee has done for the athlete in  the past?  

 A: We have conducted  a  workshop  against the sexual harassment in sports recently. The Olympic Committee,  the Women’s  Committee and  the Athletic Council conducted this workshop. Then  thirty athletes  affected by the  Covid-19   pandemic were given a grant of money donated by the  IOC .

Currently,  we have  started a new  spoken English course for athletes. This is the work  we have done  in the past couple of months. 

Q: What is the term of office of  your Sports Commission?

 A: After three years we, have to hold an annual General meeting. Anyone liking  to be in  this committee can come forward  at the  AGM.  An  Olympian can enter the AGM directly and other athletes must be nominated by  their Federations. But we  are  affiliated  with the IOC and not  under the control of  any local sports body. 

Q: Finally,   what have you to say about your achievements as a young girl?  

 A: I am very happy to  have established my career in sport;  I do not consider this  as a job  to earn money. But we can learn  many  things about administration.

I am in 27 now and happy about my journey in sports and life. . However, I  tread on  this path with  the help of  the other members of my commission, senior and junior athletes and the  NOC. I would like to  take this opportunity to thank them.