Sri Lanka, the splendid island of the Indian Ocean, is simply well-known as a tourist destination, with a bunch of fascinations. Still, is this magical paradise significant only because of this simple reason? Not at all! There are several reasons that mark the name ‘Sri Lanka’ more boldly in this world. Moreover, among them, the eminent personalities, artists, as well as sportsmen and sportswomen play a major role. However, if we are to draw your attention towards the famous sportswomen from Sri Lanka, the name Susanthika Jayasinghe indeed becomes the main highlight! Thus, we thought of sharing with you about this wonderful sportswoman. We are sure that you are excited to know about her. Continue reading, and this Sri Lankan talent is sure to impress you!
Who is Susanthika Jayasinghe?
Susanthika Jayasinghe is a Sri Lankan female athlete who represented Sri Lanka at the Summer Olympics in Sydney in 2000 and won the Silver Olympic medal for the 200 meters running event. Besides, she is the second Sri Lankan to win an Olympic medal and the first Asian to win an Olympic medal or a championship medal in a sprint event. Accordingly, Susanthika Jayasinghe has received the nickname of “Asian Black Mare” due to her extraordinary skills in sprint events.
Susanthika played track and field and participated in sprint events from 1994 to 2009 internationally with the athlete code of 14300498. Furthermore, Susanthika Jayasinghe was the most talented athlete ever found in Sri Lanka to win 4 Gold medals and 3 Silver medals in the 100 meters international events and 4 Gold medals, 3 Silver medals, and 2 Bronze medals in the 200 meters international events. In addition, she was able to secure one Gold medal in the 4 x 100 m relay. In total, she has won 17 medals representing Sri Lanka in track and field. They include 6 Gold medals, 9 Silver medals, and 2 Bronze medals.
The government offered her the “Deshbandhu” title in honor of the fame she brought to Sri Lanka with her superb skills. She retired as a sprinter specializing in 100 meters and 200 meters events on February 5, 2009.
Early Life and Education of Susanthika Jayasinghe
Susanthika Jayasinghe was born on December 17, 1975, in the Uduwaka area in Sri Lanka. The Ethnawala village in Warakapola where she lived located 60 kilometers north of Colombo. Her family did not have the best means of living. A pair of running spikes cost more than the monthly income of the family. Similarly, her family could not pay for sports gear or a coach to train her. In this situation, she had no choice but to join the Sri Lankan Army Volunteer Force to pursue her athletic ambitions.
Susanthika Jayasinghe entered the army force as a private in the third battalion of the Sri Lanka Women’s Corps (SLAWC). Later, in 1994, she won the “Best Player” trophy in the all-island championship by participating as a team member of SLAWC. Accordingly, she showed her amazing talents to the country for the very first time. This very achievement encouraged her to start a full-time career as an athlete. Thus, as the first step, she joined the Sri Lankan National Athletic Squad. There she got herself trained to participate in more challenging sports events.
Susanthika’s first international achievement happened at Hiroshima, Japan where the Asia Games were held in 1994. Accordingly, she won the Silver medal in the 200 m running event at the very first international sports competition she participated in. Indeed, this displays the incredible talent she improved through hard training, the endless commitment, and the immense effort she put into her career.
What is the Achievement of Susanthika Jayasinghe?
Susanthika Jayasinghe achieved the most coveted achievement almost all athletes dream of in their career. Indeed, it is none other than winning a medal in the Olympic Games. She believes it is the pinnacle of her sports career as well as her greatest achievement.
Detailing her greatest achievement, she won the Bronze Olympic medal in the 200 meters sprint event in the Summer Olympics held in Sydney, Australia in the year 2000. She managed to finish the 200 m within 22.28 seconds. Later, the Gold medalist of that event Marion Jones admitted to doping. Hence, Susanthika Jayasinghe placed second and received the Silver medal. Thus, it became the second and the only other Olympic medal ever won by a Sri Lankan after Duncan White. (Duncan White was the first to bring an Olympic medal to Sri Lanka.)
Accordingly, Susanthika Jayasinghe wrote history as the first and the only Sri Lankan woman to bring home an Olympic medal. Thus, her name would always be in gold in the history of Sri Lankan sports.
Professional Athletics Career of Susanthika Jayasinghe
By now, you know that Susanthika marked the beginning of her professional athletic career by joining the SLAWC. Moreover, she participated in the Asian Games in 1994 and the World Championships in 1997 in the 200 meters sprint event.
Next, she traveled to the USA to train for the Summer Olympics held in 2000. Because of the poor contribution of the National Athletics Association with her training, she had to go heavily into debt to achieve her dream to participate in the Olympics games. Thus, we can specially mention that it was due to her utmost dedication, that she won the Bronze medal for placing third place in Women’s 200 m, which later became the second place.
In 1998, authorities did not allow her to participate in any competition due to her failure in the drug test. Later, they cleared her name. But, she believed that it was due to the difference in her political beliefs, and falling out with the Ministry of Sports that they falsely accused her of the drug test failure. The authorities accused her of using nandrolone, but by the time they cleared her name Sri Lanka’s sporting body did not welcome her. Thus, she again visited Los Angeles to train with Nagalingam Ethirveerasingam.
Susanthika achieved Gold medals in 100 meters and 200 meters in the Asia Athletics Championship in 2007 held in Jordan. Similarly, she won a Bronze medal in 200 meters in the IAAF World Championship in 2007 after 10 years. Accordingly, the IAAF ranked her 18th in the 100 meters and 20th in the 200 meters sprint events. Later, she retired in 2009 to give birth to a baby boy.
Susanthika Jayasinghe Personal Bests
On September 9th in 2000, she recorded 11.04 seconds in the 100 meters event at Yokohama in Japan. In the same way, she was able to record 22.28 seconds in the 200 meters sprint event. This happened at the Sydney Olympics in Australia on September 28th in 2000. These records happen to be the personal bests of this great Sri Lankan athlete, Susanthika Jayasinghe.
Achievements of Susanthika Jayasinghe
By now, you know many of her significant achievements. However, all her achievements are listed below for a better overview. They will surely prove to you more about her exceptional talents, and wins!
Some of her Significant Achievements
- Susanthika Jayasinghe placed second in Asian Games in 200 meters in 1994 at Hiroshima in Japan.
- She won second place in the 100 meters and first place in the 200 meters in Asian Championships in 1995. This was held in Jakarta in Indonesia.
- At the World Championship held in Athens, Greece in 1997, she won the second place Bronze medal in the 200 meters sprint event.
- Susanthika placed eighth in the IAAF Grand Prix Final at Munich in Germany. That was in the 200 meters sprint event in 1999.
- In 2000, she won the most memorable medal in her life, the Olympics Silver medal for 200 meters sprint event.
- Susanthika placed fourth in the 200 meters event in the World Indoor Championships in Portugal held in 2001.
- In 2002, she participated in Asian Championships at Colombo and won the Gold medal in both 100 and 200 meters.
- Susanthika participated in the Commonwealth Games held at Manchester in England and placed fourth in the 100 meters.
- She became the Gold medalist at the 100 meters event in Asian Games held at Busan.
- She placed second and fourth in 100 and 200 meters respectively in the IAAF World Cup at Madrid.
- In the 2006 Asian Games, she was able to win the Silver and Bronze medals in 100 meters and 200 meters sprint events. The event was in Doha in Qatar.
- In 2007, she was able to participate and win in two competitions. The first one was the Asian Championships held at Amman in Jordan. In this, she placed first in the 100 meters and 200 meters. The second was the World Championships held at Osaka in Japan. In this competition, she was able to secure the Bronze medal in the 200 meters event.
Susanthika’s Post-Sports Career
After her retirement, she was not that involved in the field of athletics. However, she tried to enter politics. Accordingly, Susanthika contested in the 2010 General Election representing the Kegalle district from the United Freedom Alliance. However, she was unable to win a seat.
Nevertheless, later, in 2016, she got a chance to work in the field of sports again. In fact, she got an appointment as a paid adviser in the Ministry of Sports. Accordingly, she contributed to the field of athletics by selecting and training prospective track athletes. Furthermore, in 2017, she attempted to sell her Silver Olympics medal as the Ministry of Sports suspended her payments.
The Bottom Line
Of course, Susanthika’s life was tough from her childhood. Still, her talents and her utmost dedication, made her dreams a reality. Her strong ambition and her willpower made her the first-ever Sri Lankan female athlete to represent the country at the Olympic games and to win an Olympic medal. Thus, Susanthika Jayasinghe is indeed a perfect role model and a true inspiration, for any of the young athletes, who are talented and dreaming big.
However, there is so much for future generations to learn from this talented sportswoman. Hence, we believe that the authorities, as well as the budding athletes, should make maximum use of her experiences. However it is, she is indeed a true Sri Lankan, who made her motherland proud. Thus, she has always been, and continues to be, a star in the hearts of Sri Lankans!