Sriyani Dhammika Menike - The unbeatable athlete | Sunday Observer

Sriyani Dhammika Menike - The unbeatable athlete

26 September, 2021

On February, 3 , 1970 Don Sriyani Dhammika Menike was born for a career of great fame and unrivalled achievements. At the 1992 Summer Olympic Games, in the women’s 1, 500 metres event she elevated the country’s name to the international arena. Undoubtedly, she is an unbeatable heroine born in Sri Lanka who has made the country proud.

She had her education at Manawila Upananda MV and at Sanghamitta BMV. Sriyani is an iron woman who rose from tears and hardships. What made her stand out in the international Olympic arena was her unflinching determination.

“We did not have even shoes to practice for competitions. We ran not for money but for the country. We wanted to do something good for the country.” she revealed. Sriyani has been extolled as a dedicated athlete even in her school days.

One good example for this is the fact that she won the sprint events in the under 11 age category. Moreover, Sriyani marked a milestone in her life by participating in the Asian Inter - Cities Meet held in Singapore in 1985. Significantly, this was her maiden contribution to an international event.

Needless to say that Olympic athletes like Sriyani are rare in Sri Lanka. Regrettably, no government has taken measures to look after their wellbeing. “ There have been 96 Olympic athletes in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, most of them are no more. At present, there are only 46 athletes alive. But sadly, no government has taken measures to look after them. We ran not for money but for this country. I suggest that the government grants a pension to the Olympic heroes in the country. It will be a great relief to them.”

We all know that Olympic athletes dedicate their lives to the sport with the pure thought of bringing pride and glory to the country at the expense of their own health and safety. That is why we as a country are indebted to such athletes. However, sadly our country has not realised their value. Though the thought of making a mint of money through sports had never come to their minds , questions arise as to whether we have understood their untainted intentions.

Her achievements -:

01. She won the sprint events in the under 11 age group category.

02. She came third in the 800m and second in the 1500m events in the 1984 National Athletics Championships.

03. In 1988, was selected as the ‘Best Female Athlete’ at the All - island schools athletic meet.

04. In 1989, she was crowned as the .Best Female Athlete’ at the National Championships. Her present record is 2.09.94s.

05. Amazingly, she has shattered her own records on seven occasions. The record set by her in the 1 , 500 m event has been shattered by herself. Her present record is 4.33.7s.

06. The Asian Inter Cities Meet which was held in Singapore in the year 1985 can be seen as a turning point in her life because it was her maiden international meet.

07. Not surprisingly, Sriyani though the youngest athlete to represent Sri Lanka at the international meet , won the Gold Medal in the 3.000m event beating top athletes from 16 countries.

08. In the 1, 500 m event she won a Bronze Medal.

09. In 1986, she participated in an athletic meet held in Baku. In this year, she was placed 6th in the 3,000 m at the Asian Junior Athletics Meet held in Indonesia.

10. In 1989, she won the third place in the 800m event at the Asian Inter - Cities Athletics Meet held in Hong Kong and at the 4th South Asian Federation Games held in Islamabad, Pakistan.

11. She participated in the Asian Athletics Championships held in New Delhi , India in 1989 and Malaysia in 1991.

12. In 1991, at the fifth SAF Games held in Colombo, she won two Gold Medals in the 800m and 1, 500m events defeating Indian athletes.

13. In the 4×400m relay event, she won a silver medal. At the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992 she was placed 26th out of 45 athletes participating in the 800m event.

14. In the 1500m event her time was 4.26.7s. She participated in an invitational meet in Malaysia and won two Gold Medals in the 800m and 1,500m events.

Challenges -:

Challenges and problems can shape our lives and sharpen our skills. Most people get overcome by challenges but only a fistful of rare kind people can overcome those challenges. Sriyani is one of such a rare kind of heroines who rose to the challenge. Perhaps, she might have known that her path is not a rose-strewn path. She shifted gears to cut her own path through tears and challenges. When she started her athletic journey, she did not have the required facilities. But she made a tremendous effort to make history by dedicating herself to the sport.

“I did not have even shoes to wear when practising for the Olympics. But I won medals with the thought of making our proud.” She said proudly. Speaking of her children, they are already involved in sports. “ I have four children. My son is the cricket captain of the school. But they did not continue sports. “ she said.

Her message -:

It is needless to elaborate how strong and determined Sriyani is because it is obvious. Her message is precious for anyone. “ Your dedication is the most important one. Dedicate yourself to whatever you do. There may be many pitfalls on your path. Be strong to overcome such obstacles without being weak and getting overcome by those obstacles. Just because we did not have spikes to wear when practising for the Olympics we did not give up our goals.” said Sriyani with pride She stressed the fact that though there can be many talented youths in villages who can win medals at the Olympics but sadly, there is not a proper system to identify such children.

“Without a proper system we can not find the talented children. There should be a standard system to identify such children. I am willing to make my contribution to any professional programto help the talented athletes”

. Indeed, Sriyani Dhammika Menike is a multifaceted gem that brightens our country. Obviously, we are indebted to Olympic Heroes and Heroines such as Duncan White , Sriyani Dhammika, Susanthika and Damaynathi Dharsha. There is no doubt that Sri Lankan Olympic history will write their names in golden letters for every drop of blood and sweat shed on behalf of the motherland.