Manjula Kumara - most experienced high jumper to represent the country | Daily News
Sri Lankan Olympic stars of yesteryear :

Manjula Kumara - most experienced high jumper to represent the country

Manjula Kumara Wijesekara is regarded as one of the most experienced high jumpers to have represented the country mainly in the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games after making his senior debut in 2001. *

Wijesekera represented Sri Lanka at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, which was also his only Olympic appearance during his prolific career.

Wijesekera was born on January 30, 1984 in Morawaka and was the fourth in the family. He had his early education at Kosnilgoda Primary School and later he moved to Vijitha MV, Dickwella.

In the beginning he had a liking for volleyball but later he changed his mind and took to track and field and later he decided to compete in the high jump event.

However, poor Wijesekera did not even have a pair of shoes and a proper track-kit when he first participated in the Public Schools Meet in 1994. Thereafter, his school Principal came forward to provide all his needs and took him to the Sugathadasa Stadium for competition and the rest is now part of history. He responded immediately with a Silver Medal and thereafter, he came under the guidance of veteran athletics coach Keerthi Kumara.

He received all his nourishments and vitamins as well and went on to establish a new national record before he joined the Southern University in California, US through the courtesy of Nagalingam Ethirweerasingham.

Thereafter, Wijesekera was able to improve his performance from 2.15m to 2.25m under the guidance of Cuban Coach Lewis Miranda.

He completely dominated the regional South Asian Games event and had the satisfaction of winning back-to-back Gold Medals in 2004, 2005 and 2006 respectively. He further extended his dominance and took another step towards achieving excellence by winning the Gold Medal at the 2009 Asian Athletics Championships in Guangzhou, China.

However, Wijesekera had to be content with the Bronze Medal at the 2016 South Asian Games held in India and in the same year he accounted for the Bronze Medal at the Asian Indoor Games in Doha, Qatar and produced a repeat performance in 2017 in Turkmenistan. Wijesekera also had the honour of representing the country at the 2005 World Athletic Championships in Helsinki and was placed ninth at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India.

He kept on working hard to enhance his performances and secured the 13th place at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.

In addition, he was placed eighth at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, South Korea and was placed seventh at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar. Wijesekera placed sixth at the 2001 World Youth Festival in Algeria and secured ninth place at the 2002 World Youth Championship in Kingston, Jamaica.

He later followed a Diploma in Australia and entered into sports management. After his retirement in 2019, he became an athletics coach and was behind the success of two promising athletes, Thilina Karunaratne of Royal College and Tharindu Dasun from the Southern Province who cleared 2.12m at the 2018 Junior South Asian Games. (C.D)


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