I was confident of winning a Gold medal - Dinesh Priyantha | Sunday Observer

I was confident of winning a Gold medal - Dinesh Priyantha

12 September, 2021

Herath Mudiyanselage Dinesh Priyantha is the new hero in Sri Lanka these days after winning a Gold medal in the Paralympics Games in Tokyo in the javelin throw in the F46 category, setting a world record recently.

The Youth Observer called him and his family to find out their feelings about his marvelous performance.

“After being wounded in the battle against terrorism I decided to enter the field of sports,” he said.

During the combat mission in Kilinochi he was wounded in the left hand and had to be hospitalized.

“Three shots struck his hand causing severe injuries,” his wife said.

“I was a soldier in the Gajaba Regiment. We were fighting terrorists to protect our people. During the final stage of the battle I was wounded. Then I was hospitalized and underwent surgery. However, my hand did not work properly. Its neurons had been destroyed. I realized that I could not use it as I wished,” Priyantha said.

Later he was sent for rehabilitation to the Ranaviru Sevana in Ragama. “I stayed there for several months,” he said.

There he saw several wounded soldiers undergoing rehabilitation to enable them to lead normal lives. Some did not have hands, another had lost his legs. Everyone had lost some part of his body and they were struggling to lead normal lives.

“However, Priyantha never gave up trying to lead a normal life again. However, the reality was that he could not use his left hand as he wished. Then it was suggested to him that he could take up sports if he wished. That was how he came to be an athlete,” his wife said.

He took to athletics and specialised in the javelin throw.e selected to field events and specialized for javelin. Day by day his progress improved. “My coach told me that I have plenty of skills to perform the event and will improve soon,” said Priyantha.

He was sent to take part in the Malaysian para meet which was a trial for selection for the 2012 Paralympics. Priyantha won a Gold medal in his pet event. Following which he was determined to take part in the 2012 Paralympics.

However, Priyantha was a newcomer to the para-athletics field and his skills were not counted in the world grading system. Due to this he was unable to participate in the Paralympics in 2012. In 2014 he got a chance to compete in the Asian Para games. Though he did not win a medal he gathered plenty of skills.

“In the Asian para meet I won sixth place. It gave me morale,” Priyantha said.

In 2016, he took part in the Rio Paralympics.

“I won a Bronze medal in the Rio Paralympics. I was very happy about that achievement. As a soldier I tried to give my everything to save the country and after being injured in combat, I found a new path to take the country to the world. That is sports. I achieved it in Rio and I was very happy about it.”

After winning a Bronze at the Rio Paralympics bronze medal, as a true son of the soil, he was determined to win a Gold medal for the country.

“At that time, I was in my late twenties. I think when I was 29. I threw the javelin 58.23 metres to win that medal. I felt that I could throw more than this distance and kept on training hard,” Priyantha said.

The World Para meet was another place he found success. In 2017, he won a Silver medal at the World Para Games. This helped him to be appointed as captain of the Sri Lanka contingent at the 2018 Asian Para Games.

He reacted positively with that responsibility and won a Gold medal in the F46 javelin event. Dinesh threw his javelin, a distance of 61.84 metres.

“That was a tremendous victory for me. It encouraged me to perform better in future tournaments. The World para meet was the chance to show my skills again and I won a Silver in 2019,” he said.

Following those victories Priyanth became a well-known figure in the world para-athletics field. Then he was determined to become a world champion one day.

“Priyantha told me that he hoped to win a Gold medal at the Tokyo Paralympics while also setting up a world record. I was sure he would achieve his dreams. Once he makes up his mind to do something he never gives up easily,” his wife said.

Dinesh Priyantha was nominated as the captain of the Sri Lanka Paralympics team.

“I was confident of winning a Gold medal considering my performance at international meets. A former Paralympic Gold medalist was also taking part, but I had defeated him at Asian level meets. That was a moral booster for me. The Sports Ministry has provided many facilities for the Paralympic team, which has helped us develop a Paralympic hero in the F46 category,” he said.

As he hoped for, Priyantha was able to throw his javelin, a distance of 67.79 metres enabling him to win the Gold medal as well as set up a world record.

“I am very happy about my achievement. This is not a personal win for me. It is our country and our people who have won. I am so proud about that victory,” Priyantha said.

The Sports Ministry has promised him a cash gift of Rs. 50 million. He was also presented with a Japanese car for his performance.

Dinesh Priyantha had planned to give up his sports career after winning a Paralympic Gold. However, he has now changed his mind and hopes to take part in international meets.