‘I don’t need drugs to improve my timing’ | Sunday Observer

‘I don’t need drugs to improve my timing’

31 January, 2021
Kalinga Kumarage
Kalinga Kumarage

Sri Lankan sprinter Kalinga Kumarage, who was sidelined over a doping scandal, made a memorable return to the track by winning two gold medals in the 200m and 400m events at the recent 98th National Athletic Championship held at the Sugathadasa Stadium.

Kumarage won the 200m in 20.79 seconds and finished first at the 400m in 46.25 seconds. He was ranked as the top male performer at this meet for his 400m winning time that also gave him 1094 points and is also part of the Elite pool with these performances.

The 28 year old Kumarage was caught up in the doping scandal in 2018 but was cleared after a lengthy legal battle to make a comeback after a two-year lapse. He never gave up hopes of staging a return to prove he does not need drugs to win medals.

“I made certain never to be mentally down during the suspended period and wanted to clear my name from doping. That was my first hurdle to clear any black mark and continue to train hard with my coach.

“I have never doped and I proved it at this National athletic championship and my timing will improve further. I must thank my doctors who helped me in the fight,” said Kumarage.

“Athletic Association President Major General Palitha Fernando always encouraged me during this hard time and it was really appreciated.”

Kumarage was a member of the 4x400 relay team for many international events. The athlete from Gampaha gained his first international experience at the Asian Games in Incheon , South Korea in 2014 with the Sri Lankan 4x400m relay team. The following year he was fifth with the relay team at the Asian Championship in Wuhan, China and had to retire in the 400m with 47.56 seconds in the first round.

In 2016 he won the silver medal with the relay team in 3.07.59 minutes at the South Asian Games in Guwahati behind the team from India.

In 2017 at the Asian Championships in Bhubaneshwar he won the silver medal behind the team from India in the men’s relay in 3.04.80 minutes and in 2018 once again at the Asian Games in Jakarta he finished eighth in the 400m individual event and was a member of the 4x400 relay team with 3.02.74 minutes. It was only in 2018 that he started to run the 200m.

“My confidence level is high and so is my team spirit to look ahead to the future especially at Asian level,” he declared.