I hope to set up a new Sri Lanka record - hammer thrower Ayesha Maduwanthi | Sunday Observer

I hope to set up a new Sri Lanka record - hammer thrower Ayesha Maduwanthi

30 May, 2021

A few years ago, she held the Sri Lanka national hammer throwing record. In 2018, she suddenly left for Australia to pursue her higher studies and fulfill her dreams. She is Ayesha Maduwanthi, an attractive young athlete in the sports arena. The Youth Observer caught up with her to discuss her future.

Q: You were a national record holder as a hammer thrower in Sri Lanka. For how many years did you hold that title?

A: I held the record continuously for four years.

Q: Is it true that you gave up the game after your record was broken?

A: No, that is not correct. The record was broken after I left for Australia. But I have not given up the sport. I hope to set up a new record in the future. But first I have to complete my degree which is a very important part of my life.

Q: How did your sports career begin?

A: I was born in Sevanagala, a village in Moneragala. It is 90 kilometres off Moneragala town. This is where I began my sports career.

Q: Could you give some details about your family members?

A: My father Gunasena Kodithuwakku is a farmer and my mother is Manike Ranasingha. She died when I was a child. We are a big family of six. I am the fifth in the family. I studied at Sevanagala Maha Vidyalaya.

Q: Sevanagala MV is not well known for sports. How did you enter the sports arena?

A: Inter-house sports meets helped me to become an athlete. I took part in the 50 metre and 75 metre sprint events and the high jump at the age of 10. That was my beginning in sports. Fortunately, I won the above events and received the Most Talented Player award at the age of 11. Then I had the opportunity to participate in the all-sland sport meet too.

Q: What about your other achievements?

A: I performed well in the 100 m in the under-13 age group and was selected to represent the Uva Province in the inter-provincial meet. I could keep my place as a sprinter in school meets until I was 15.

Q: When did you change your pet event to disc throwing?

A: In 2004 I was in Grade 10. One day our Science teacher Upul Ranasinghe was teaching us about throwing. As an experiment he asked all the students in class to throw the discus. My throw was further than all the boys in class. That was the turning point in my sports life.

Q: That made you change your events to field events?

A: Yes. In school I took part in the 100m, the putt shot, discus and javelin and I won all the events. I also won events as a discus thrower and won a Bronze medal for discus throwing at the public schools meet.

Q: The medal that you won at the public school meet may have been a remarkable achievement for your school at that time?

A: Yes it was. It was the first time that a student of the school won a medal at the public schools meet. The following year I won a Silver medal in the under-17 category for the same event at the public schools meet. That was in 2005, the year I sat for my GCE Ordinary Level examination.

Q: Wasn’t it difficult to balance studies and sports?

A: No it wasn’t. I managed the two as best as I could. I passed the Ordinary Level examination and selected art subjects for my Advanced Level.

Q: Did you stop your sports activities during the Advanced Level examination?

A: No, I never stopped my sports activities. In 2006, I won the Gold medal for discus throw at the National Youth Championship and won a Bronze medal in the under-21 category. I also passed the GCE Advanced Level examination with two B passes and one simple pass. It was during this time that my mother passed away. It was a major blow in my life and I stopped my sports activities for a short time.

Q: Have you made any sacrifices to pursue your dream of reaching the top as a discus thrower?

A: Yes. In 2009 I was selected for a teacher training course at the National College of Education. But I did not take the opportunity but decided to continue my sports career. I joined the Air Force athletics team to stay with the game.

Q: What were your achievements when you were in the Air Force?

A: I won a Bronze medal for discus throw at the Junior Athletic Championship and Women’s Athletics Championship in 2010. In 2011, I won a Silver at the Junior Championship and in 2012 I won the Gold medal at the National Youth Games. I also won the Silver at the National Sports Festival the same year.

Q: Is it true that you changed your event due to an injury you suffered in 2013?

A: Yes it is true. In 2013 I suffered a hand injury during training. As the recovery period would be long, my coach Madawa Bandara asked me to consider changing my event. I asked him what event he had in mind. He told me that I could find more success in the hammer throwing event.

Q: Most hammer throwers are fat and strong. Do you plan to build up your body?

A: I gave serious thought to what my coach told me and accepted his suggestion. But on condition that I keep my body as at present and not increase it for any reason.

Q: What happened after your decision? Do you find success?

A: Yes. After a short-term training session, I won Gold medals in discus and hammer throw at the National Sports Festival. I set a new national record in the hammer throwing event and threw the hammer a distance of 42.74 m. That was a memorable event in my life as I set up a new national record and became a national champion in a new event within a short period. That was a miracle. In that year I won the Gold medal for hammer throw and Silver medal for discus throw at the National Athletics Championship.

Q: After that win you held the national title in hammer throw for a few years?

A: Yes, I did. I won the Gold medal at the National Sports Festival in 2015. But in 2016 I had to settle for a Silver medal. However, in the same year, I won Gold medals for discus and hammer throw at the National Athletics Championship.

Q: Why did you decide to stop competitive sports?

A: After a few years of holding the national title, I thought of obtaining a degree and I joined a university in Australia in 2019.

Q: Now that you are a final year student what are your future plans?

A: I am following a degree course in Business Management and Hospitality at Edith Cowan University. After obtaining my degree this year I hope to come back to Sri Lanka and continue my sports career and I hope to set a new national hammer throwing record.

I also hope to represent the country as a bodybuilder. A large number of my fans ask me to take up bodybuilding. I hope after a few years of training I can represent the country at the Olympics or at least at the Commonwealth Games.

Q: Do you plan to stay in Australia after you complete your degree or come back immediately?

A: I plan to come back immediately and set up a national record and help my hometown and school. I would also like to work as an independent fitness trainer.