Lankan swimmers at Gold Coast 2018
By Radha Wimalawansa
The Commonwealth Games 2018, commonly known as Gold Coast 2018 just concluded. The Games took place in Gold Coast, Australia from the 4th to the 15th of April. Few weeks before Gold Coast 2018, I had the privilege of talking to two of the athletes who represented Sri Lanka at this international multi-sport event. They’ve both got one thing in common; they live and breathe swimming. Amidst all the intense training and hectic schedules just before the Games, Cherantha De Silva and Dilrukshi Perera took some time off to speak to ChoKoLAATe.
Cherantha De Silva
Cherantha requires no introduction. If you’ve read our previous issue you would definitely know who Cherantha De Silva is. But even if you haven’t, you’d still be familiar with this noteworthy swimmer’s name. Cherantha is the fastest swimmer in the country and the first Lankan to break a foreign national’s record. Currently residing in Thailand, Cherantha left for Gold Coast on the 30th of March and returned to Thailand on the 11th of April for immediate commencement in training for the upcoming Asian Games and Short Course World Championships.
As the highest qualifier from the Sri Lankan swimming team at the Games, Cherantha took part in five events namely 50m Butterfly, 100m Butterfly, 200m Butterfly, 50m Freestyle and 100m Freestyle.
Training for a competition of this caliber isn’t near easy. “A sport may seem like its mostly physical work. However, it’s the mental drive and motivation that helps you achieve your goal. I have been training full time. I’ve got 10 swimming sessions and 4 dry land sessions a week that comprises a lot of mileage and brutal cross fits. Once a week, I get a painful deep tissue sports massage done with a little bit of Yoga here and there. And of course, I have to submerge my entire body into a 43°C Jacuzzi for 10 minutes and take a 5 cold plunge for 10 minutes twice a week. Apart from that, the goal is to take control of your nervousness to keep you focused,” says Cherantha.
“As we all know, the term Commonwealth itself takes us back to the period of British colonization. Instead of airing hatred towards the British for their acts during colonization, the Commonwealth nations come together during the Games and spread love and joy amongst all. Therefore, I am really proud to be part of it,” comments Cherantha when asked what Commonwealth Games means to him as an athlete.
Out of the six swimmers chosen by the Aquatic Sports Union who represented the country at the Games, Dilrukshi is the only participant from an outstation school. This amazingly talented 18 year old is from Hillwood College, Kandy. In her debut entry to the Commonwealth Games, Dilrukshi represented Sri Lanka in two events namely 50m Freestyle and 50m Butterfly.
She has been representing the country in the international platform since 2015. In 2016, she bagged two medals at the SAARC Games that was hosted in Colombo. The following year, she represented the country at the Youth Commonwealth Games, World Junior Swimming Championship and Asian Age Group Swimming Championship. She has earned a timing of 27.85 seconds in 50m Freestyle and 30.30 seconds in 50m Butterfly.
“It was Mr. Lokuketiya who introduced me to swimming as a youngster, and I won my first all island championship under the guidance of Mr. Bandula,” recalls Dilrukshi when asked as to how all of it started.
“All the hard work I put into the Games would not have been of any use if not for my pillars of strength. Our school principal was always very flexible with all my trainings. My parents, my siblings and my best friend are all worth mentioning as they constantly supported me and motivated me to prepare myself both physically and mentally for the competition,” says Dilrukshi.