|Monday, 27 September 2004|
Life and times in sports
The golden boy of swimming
by Premasara Epasinghe
Swimming can be defined as self-propulsion of the body through the water. It is one of the most popular disciplines in Olympic Games, as well as, all other International Sports Meets.
Today, the feature is on golden boy of swimming in Sri Lanka - Julian Bolling.
He holds a unique record - representing Sri Lanka in three consecutive Olympic Games, Los Angeles 1984, Seoul 1988 and Barcelona in 1992.
What more achievement for a sportsman or sportswoman than to represent his or her country in an Olympic Games? Bolling represented not once, but thrice. It is no doubt a very rare honour to be an Olympian thrice.
He excelled in the SAF games. He brought honour and glory to Sri Lanka by bringing a haul of gold medals. In 1987 Julian won 3 golds. He won 4 golds in 1989.
He went from strength to strength. In 1991 Julian collected half a dozen gold medals. Further in 1984 at an international meet he bagged 2 golds. It is undoubtedly a very great achievement for any sportsman.
A child's future is mostly monitored by their parents.
The love, affection and tender care provided by Sri Lanka's best Asian swimmer Tara Bolling culminated the emergence of her reputed and illustrious son Julian Bolling becoming a champion of champions.
Sports in his blood
To begin with Julian never had an idea of becoming a swimmer. With his darling mum, brothers Jeromy and David, he first got into the pool, as a tiny tot of 6 years. He did not like it. Therefore at the age of 6 years he had an early exit from the pool.
His mother, Tara noticed that some of his classmates from Royal and friends who had taken to swimming were physically stronger than Julian. He was a weak link compared to them. One day his mother told him, "Julian why not try swimming and make yourself physically stronger."
He gladly accepted his mother's advice. This is how Julian started his swimming career at the age of 10 years.
Jeromy and David, his two brothers and Julian were Royalists. They all swam for Royal College first. In 1979 David and Julian represented Sri Lanka in the Indo-Sri Lanka meet. David won a gold and Julian, a silver. His eldest brother Jeromy was a reserve in the Sri Lanka team. Tara was their coach and the national coach of swimming at that time.
Tracing their family history sports was part and parcel in their lives and it runs in their blood. They were the fourth generation to take to sports.
Late Col. F. C. de Saram, colourful personality and outstanding Sri Lanka cricket captain was Julian's grandfather. Saram was his mother's father. Col. Saram's son Dilan played cricket for S. Thomas' in the late 1960s. Julian's father Ralph Bolling played cricket for St. Joseph's College in 1952.
Considering all this sports background there was no escape route for him. It was a voluntary decision Julian Bolling took and his parents were a great inspiration and a tower of strength. His beloved mother was always behind him and she taught him the finer points in the art of swimming.
His contemporaries in swimming at Royal consisted of Piyal Hewage, Lalinda Gunaratne, "Brum" Arujuna Puvimanasingham, Ross Twins - Suresh & Naresh and Jatileq Amadon.
"This was an unbeatable age group team. They were also a great influence for my future career as a swimmer," stated unassuming Julian.
Leaving Royal College he entered the University of Clarion, Pennsylvania, USA and specialised in Marketing and International Business. He was allowed to do full time sports. He practised hard.
Julian served American Express Bank. Later he joined Nestles, as an Assistant Brands Manager. But his forte was swimming. He enjoyed a lot imparting his knowledge in swimming to the younger ones as a coach.
Ingredients for success
I asked Julian what are the ingredients that are necessary to become a good swimmer. "It is like building a house. You first put the foundation. We cannot construct the walls and the roof before you lay the foundation. Technique is a must in swimming.
It will definitely produce better and good results.
Swimming is not only a sport. It is a life saving tool. I believe if you can save yourself in water or save somebody from water it is great. You must enjoy swimming. "Dedication, commitment, application, concentration and discipline are very important ingredients for any swimmer. You must make sacrifices in your day-to-day life. Endurance and physical fitness is vital.
I think you must start early. Age 10 will be a good start," remarked Julian.
You took part in three Olympic Games in 1984, 1988 and 1992. What was the most memorable one?
"All Olympic Games are fantastic. My most memorable one was the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984," stated Julian Bolling.
Julian was the overall captain of the first SAF Games held in Kathmandu, Nepal. He represented the SAF Games in 1987, 1989 and 1991. He won 16 gold medals in the SAF Games - a unique record.
Today Julian is engaged in coaching the young ones. He is a charming character and a fine gentleman.
Produced by Lake House