Long jumper Janaka Prasad Wimalasiri who took the long jump crown in 2013-2014 to qualify for the Asian Games had quit the event as he was overwhelmed with injuries and disappointments until last year.
Wimalasiri who came under the guidance of Cuban coach Luis Miranda broke his shackles since then as he set a new personal best of 7.91m to win the National Sports Festival in Matara last year and haven’t looked back since then. He qualified for the Commonwealth Games 2018 having competed in the trials early this year.
Since he came to Brisbane, he has proved that he is not just a another traveller, but made his presence felt by making a 7.93m (wind assisted) leap in the Queensland classic on 28 March, fine tuning himself for the big day on 10 April when he will be competing in the long jump qualification.
Judging by the last edition of the Commonwealth Games the silver medal was won by South African Zarck Visser for his 8.12m performance. The bronze medal was won by Rushwahl Samaai for an 8.08 performance. Janaka had leapt more than 8 metres quite a few times already with a best of 8.15m where the wind was just over legal limits in those cases.
His continuous performance has certainly lit up a rare hope for a medal for Sri Lanka which Prasad and his coach also believe in.
“At the Asian Games I was suffering from extreme cold, but here the weather is not a problem and my training is going well. I have my coach by my side and we are hoping for the best,” said Wimalasiri before going for his gym training session yesterday.
Hailing from Kahawathugoda, Muruthalawa, Wimalasiri did not have a star studded school career but came good after he joined the Singha Regiment in the Army and came under the wings of Jans Dissanayake, his coach in 2010. From a 6 metre leap Prasad has improved to 7.5 plus leap with the help of Dissanayake in 3-4 years time.
Schooled at Pelawa National School, Wimalasiri like many other national athletes did not grow up in luxury. As time passed, he established himself as a consistent performer.
But after a quiet period he decided to join under the wings of coach Mirando which paved the magical way for his return to the top.
“My career was going nowhere with the injury concerns I had. Even Sir (Jans) had to work in Colombo while I was training in Kandy. Nevertheless, he always looked after me whenever he could. So I decided to join coach Luis who is a specialized jumping coach in the country,” said Wimalasiri.