Susanthika hangs her spikes
Informs President her decision:
Olympic medallist Susanthika Jayasinghe formally announced her
retirement from athletics after a special meeting with President Mahinda
Rajapaksa at Temple Trees yesterday. Minister of Sports and Public
Recreation Gamini Lokuge was also present.
Jayasinghe’s retirement was widely expected after she ran in her last
international meet in Beijing - at the 2008 Olympic Games in China where
she made it to the semi finals of women’s 200m. Incidentally, it was in
the same event that Jayasinghe won Sri Lanka’s first Olympic medal in 52
years - at the Sydney 2000 Games.
Jayasinghe met the sports loving President last morning to formally
inform her decision to hang her spikes. However, Jayasinghe assured the
President that she would ‘give back something’ to Sri Lanka athletics
after she becomes a mother. She indicated her willingness to support the
President in special projects dedicated to youth and sports.
President Rajapaksa commended the great sporting achievements of
Jayasinghe and thanked the athlete for her outstanding feats which have
brought glory to Sri Lanka. He wished Jayasinghe well in her future
endeavours and asked her to make an active contribution to promote
athletics at rural level.
The 33-year-old sprint queen, who is expecting her first baby mid
this year, is the most successful athlete that Sri Lanka has ever
produced. She entered the international arena with Girls 100m and 200m
gold medals at the Junior Asian Track & Field Championships in Indonesia
way back in 1993.
Ever since, she has done wonders for Sri Lanka athletics in the
She stepped into the big league with women’s 200m silver at 1994
Asian Games in Hiroshima, Japan. She bagged her first gold medal at
Asian level when she came first in women’s 200m at the Asian Athletic
Championships in Jakarta, Indonesia in 1995.
Jayasinghe won Sri Lanka’s first ever medal in the IAAF World
Championship history - a silver in Athens 1997. Incidentally, it was
President Mahinda Rajapaksa who was the President of Athletic
Association of Sri Lanka (AASL) when Jayasinghe won Sri Lanka’s maiden
World Championship medal.
Jayasinghe said President Rajapaksa has been a tower of strength
during her athletic career and thanked the President for all the
encouragement, support and assistance he has given as an athletic
official, Minister, Prime Minister and President.
President Rajapaksa played a key role to get Jayasinghe exonerated
when the Lankan athlete was tested positive for performance enhancing
drugs. With scientific and other related proof, Jayasinghe was later
cleared by the IAAF.
She became the first Sri Lankan woman to win an Olympic medal,
clocking a career best 22.28 seconds in the women’s 200m behind American
Marion Jones and Jamaican Puline Davis-Thompson in Sydney nearly nine
The celebrated Lankan woman sprinter from Warakapola, went on to win
a bronze medal in women’s 100m at the IAAF World Cup and also won the
women’s 100m gold at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, South Korea. The
last medal in Jayasinghe’s illustrious international career came in 2007
when she won the women’s 100m bronze at the IAAF World Championships in
When contacted by the ‘Daily News’ after her meeting with President
Rajapaksa yesterday, Jayasinghe said her immediate goal is to become a
mother. “It has been a long felt dream which would finally become a
reality this year. I want to get that great feeling of becoming a
mother, devote some time for my child and then look at how I am going to
give something back to athletics,” she said.
Jayasinghe, however, said she has no plans to step into athletic
administration. “No, I don’t want to step in there but I will definitely
make a come back to play an active role in the sports arena. All what I
want is to pay back and make some contribution for the promotion and to
uplift local track and field. There is immense talent in the provinces
and we must tap that talent early,” she said.
Asked whether she has any plans to serve as a coach, Jayasinghe said
it is too early to predict anything. “As I have told you, all what is
there in my world right now is to attain motherhood. Everything else
“But I don’t rule out the possibility of serving as a coach in the
future. Definitely I will make whatever contribution I could make to
promote athletics in Sri Lanka,” she concluded.