One’s soul, not my view of success – Budding sprinter Shelinda Jansen | Sunday Observer

One’s soul, not my view of success – Budding sprinter Shelinda Jansen

4 April, 2021

Shelinda Jansen is a promising athlete. However, today, she is trying to become a singer. The Youth Observer caught up with her to discuss her sport career and change in direction.

Q: You have taken up singing. Isn’t it strange for an athlete to take to singing?

A: No, it is not strange. I have loved to sing since I was a child and I have chosen the international reality platform to achieve success in singing.

Q: Did anyone influence you to take to singing or is it an inborn talent?

A: I think my father was the main reason. He influenced me to follow this path.

Q: Is your father in the music profession?

A: No, he is not in the music profession. He is a clergyman.

Q: Now let me get to sports. Did you begin sports activities while in school? And what was the first school you attended?

A: I am from Kandy and Hillwood College in Kandy was my first school. I took part in the annual inter-house sports meet for the first time when I was in Grade three.

Q: But you came into the limelight as a representative of Gateway College, an international school?

A: Yes. In 2016, I got a scholarship and entered Gateway College. Miss Lakna Warawita encouraged me to join their school.

Q: In the beginning what were your sports events?

A: Swimming was my first sports event. I began swimming when I was a Grade 3 student and I have won several medals in swimming competitions in the Central Province.

Q: How did you become an athlete?

A: The school inter-house sport meets changed my career. The 100m and 200m became my favourite events. When I was at Hillwood College I participated in the long jump event too. However, after I came to Colombo I gave up long jump and swimming.

Q: In your early days you set up a record. Could you describe it?

A: Yes. In 2017, I broke the thirty-two year Junior National Meet record set by Tania Van Heer. That was a remarkable achievement in my athletics career. Tania finished the 200m race in 25.04 seconds in 1985 and I broke it by completing the 200m in 24.92 seconds.

Q: Staying in Colombo and going to an international school would have increased expenses for your family. How do you manage it?

A: Yes indeed. My relations help me bear the expenses. Without my family and relations I could not have come this far in sports. However, I have a strong mind and I never give up challenges in life.

Q; What was the reaction of the Colombo crowds in the early days?

A: It was rather strange. I heard people saying, ‘A girl from Kandy has come. Let us see how she runs’. Some of the athletes pressured me. But I never panicked.

Q: The SAG Junior Championship changed your athletic career. Could you describe it?

A: That was my first international meet and I was the youngest competitor. However, I won two Bronze medals. Amasha akka won the Gold medals in the events.

Q: But you were not selected to take part in the Asian Junior Meet in Gifu, Japan?

A: It was an unfortunate incident in my career. The Sri Lanka Athletics Association officials told us that they had money to send only four athletes to the meet. So I could not go.

Q: Wasn’t 2017 a special year in your athletics career?

A: Yes, it was. It was the first time that I went abroad to take part in an international event. The climate was freezing. It was below 10 degrees. I ran the 200m in under 25 seconds and that was the first time a Sri Lankan woman did it after Susanthika and Darsha. It was absolutely a remarkable moment.

Q: There is a talk that you do not like to participate in the 200m event. Is it true?

A: Yes. Unlike in the 100m event, I feel tired after I complete the 200m event. That is why I do not like it. Due to this I told my coach to release me from this event. This was before I broke Van Heer’s record. But she did not agree and told me to run the 200m as my final race. Amazingly, I finished that race in a record breaking time. After that the 200m became my main event. But I love the 100m.

Q: Surely, tiredness is not an extraordinary situation for any athlete?

A: Yes. But after finishing the 200m I feel faint. That was the main reason for me to give up the event.

Q: Are members of your family or relatives involved in athletics?

A: My mother was an athlete in her younger days. She competed in the 100m and 200m. But, my father loves swimming.

Q: Who are the coaches behind your performance?

A: In early days, Dammika Sir helped to develop my skills. Today, Miss Badra and Sunil Sir are my coaches.

Q: Could you say something about your personal life?

A: Today I am an athlete. But one day I must face the reality of life. So, I must earn money and find success in life too. Without education one cannot succeed in life. As an athlete I do not like to show my medals and go begging for money for the rest of my life. That is not my style. After I complete my studies I hope to become a business administrator.

Like I said previously my father is a clergyman and mother is a housewife. I have two brothers.

The elder one is a banker and the second one is a rugger player.