Athlete Thilaka Jinadasa represented Sri Lanka in five SAF Games
Kosgamage Thilaka Dhammika Jinadasa, who represented Sri Lanka at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, was born in Colombo on March 15, 1963. She was educated at Sri Jayewardenepura Balika MV, Kotte and was able to achieve great heights in the 100m hurdles under the guidance of veteran coach late Yogananda Wijesundera.
After progressing through victories gained in 100m, 200m and high jump events at various schools and circuit meets in the Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19 age groups, she went on to win the Best Athlete Award on several occasions. In 1981, at the Junior Nationals she won the 400m event. In 1985, she switched to hurdles and in 1987 she won the 100m and 400m hurdles event while setting up new Sri Lanka records.
She performed exceptionally well in all hurdles events at the National Athletics Meet held from 1985 to 1991. Her talents were not confined to athletics alone. In 1985, she toured Singapore with the Nationalised Services Netball Team. In 1987, she represented Sri Lanka at the third SAF Games held in Kolkata, India where she won a Gold Medal in the 100m hurdles with a new Games record and a Bronze Medal in the 400m hurdles event.
In the same year she participated in the Asian Athletics Championships held in Singapore but was not able to gain a place. In 1988, she represented Sri Lanka at the Seoul Olympic Games but was again unsuccessful in gaining a place. She participated in two meets in India in 1989 and in that year, she won a Bronze Medal in the 100m hurdles at the fourth SAF Games held in Islamabad, Pakistan.
In 1991, she gained the seventh place at the Asian Athletics Championships held in Malaysia and at the fifth SAF Games held in Colombo, she won a Bronze Medal. Active in sports even after the Olympic Games, she participated in many more international events.
She was the first sportswoman to be awarded the ‘Deshabandu’ Award and had the distinction of representing Sri Lanka at five SAF Games from 1984 to 1991. She also had the honour of captaining the Sri Lanka Women’s Athletics Team at the 1991 SAF Games. In 1988, she was presented with the award having gained international recognition for the country and in 1989 she was named as the Most Popular Sportswoman. In 1991, she retired from athletics and turned out to become a top netball coach where she also coached the National Team at several international tournaments. (C.D)