Pole vaulter Sachini plans to reach Asian standards | Sunday Observer

Pole vaulter Sachini plans to reach Asian standards

10 January, 2021

Although short in stature, Sachini Perera is a talented athlete. Her talent remained hidden until she set up a new national record at the National Athletics Championship at the Sugathadasa Stadium recently.

This week, the Youth Observer decided to meet this record-breaking young woman.

Q: Although you are short you have set a new pole vault record. What is the record that you set up?

A: Yes, I am only five feet tall. However, I broke the national pole vault record. I cleared 3.56 metres.

Q: Your opponents are very much taller than you. Didn’t you find it difficult to compete against them?

A: No. I only concentrate on myself and never think about others and I never consider my height as a barrier to success. Maybe if I was taller it would have been advantageous for me. But I do not worry about that.

Q: But it seems to be a problem for others. Don’t you think so?

A: A couple of years ago I was criticized by one of the greatest athletes in our country. She admonished me and told me that I must change my event soon. She suggested that I switch to sprint events. However, I have shown her that even short girls can set up records.

Q: Do you have any quarrel with her?

A: No. I do not have any quarrel with her. But I love to show her that talent is in the mind too and not only physical and I proved it recently.

Q: You have succeeded at local level. How do you propose to succeed at international level?

A: I think that clearing a height of four metres is not an obstacle for me. But I need to undergo foreign training to improve my skills. Then I can represent my country in sports.

Q: You were involved in gymnastics as well. Could you tell us something about it?

A: Yes, I was a gymnast during my school days and performed well.

Q: You also represented the country in gymnastics in the international arena?

A: Yes. In 2014, I took part in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow as a member of the Sri Lanka gymnastics team.

I also represented the country at the Singapore invitation tournament and won a medal. That was the high point in my gymnastic career.

Q: Why did you give up gymnastics?

A: I do not know. It just happened.

Q: What do you mean “it just happened”?

A: I cannot explain how it happened. But it happened.

Q: Were you inspired by anyone to take up pole vaulting?

A: In my school days I used to accompany a senior pole vaulter for practises. Maybe due to this I developed a love for this sport.

Q: Then what happened to your gymnastic career?

A: It stopped and I began pole vault training. I think this is the sport where my heart is. So, I grabbed it and let go of my gymnastic career.

Q: Did not anyone ask you why you did not attend gymnastic practises?

A: The gymnastic association did not ask about my decision. But my coach asked me why I do not attend practises. I told him that I have given up gymnastics and taken to pole vaulting.

Q: Did he not try to change your mind?

A: He tried to. But as I was keen to become a pole vaulter he did not succeed.

Q: Do you regret that decision?

A: I think pole vaulting has changed my life. I have joined the Army and set up a new Sri Lanka record representing it. Why should I regret that decision?

Q: Field events in athletics are not popular in our country. Is that not a problem for you?

A: No. Earlier I told you that I do not know why I gave up gymnastics. Maybe it was the challenge of field events. Athletes must make field events popular through their skills. I will also try to do it.

Q: What was your school?

A: Kristuraja Vidyalaya at Pannipitiya. I am now in the Army athletics pool.

Q: J. Annetha was the national pole vault record holder before you. Have you met her as a competitor?

A: Yes. I have competed against her several times.

Q: What happened on those occasions?

A: I have beaten her and won gold medals at several competitions. Now I have broken her national record. It was a happy moment for me.

Q: You broke her record by one centimetre. I heard that you can clear more than this. What happened to you?

A: The climate was not friendly. It changed several times. However, I consistently tried to achieve more but was able to clear only one centimetre above the national record.

Q: Do you believe the record will last?

A: Any record will be broken. That is a fact. I do not want to establish a permanent record. Everyone must try to break records. I too hope to break my own record soon.

Q: You used a broken pole at the nationals. Any particular reason?

A: It is my familiar pole. I think a long pole is not the best for me and I have never practised with a new pole. That’s why I used my familiar pole.

Q: So you are not interested in using a new pole?

A: I have two new poles. My work place, the Army and the Provincial sports department had given me poles. But I trained using the broken pole. It is more suitable compared to the other two. That is the only reason to use it.

Q: Your parents say that you were like a fire-cracker in your school days. Is it true?

A: Yes. My parents told me I could not stay quiet in one place. So after I began schooling they made me take up gymnastics. That was how my sports career began.

Q: Finally, do you have anything to say to your fans?

A: Listen to your inner voice and follow it. It will take you on the correct path. Sport is the most admirable path to travel on. Do not refuse to travel on it and try to follow it in any stage of your life.