Emerging star

Asian Games poolist Mithun Perera has shown a lot of promise in golf

By Samiddha Kalmith Rathnayake
The Asian Games will begin on December 1 at Qatar and the local sports lovers are showing great interest in the prospects of some of the Sri Lankan athletes at this event. Apart from Sri Lanka’s usual medal hopes, the authorities have some sort of hope on a few other sports as well.
Golf is one such sport, where the game had produced a silver medalist during the last Asian Games when Anura Rohana, now a professional golfer won.
There is a glimmer of hope at the 2006 Games also with Mithun Perera, son of veteran golfer Nandasena Perera, emerging as a medal prospect. One can say that his high performances come to nothing when compared to those of foreign players. But arguably he can be called talented for his age.
The 19-year-old player, an old boy of President’s College, Kotte is one of the few Sri Lankans who has shown some sort of talent which can help him reach international level. It was during the Sri Lanka Amateur Championship that The Nation caught up with this talented youth. His first comments regarding his early days as a golfer were: “For me it is fun to play golf and from my childhood I used to come to see how my dad played.”
“Golf may be there in my blood, but it all depends on the dedication for the game. The secret of successful foreign players is that they play ample matches for a year and most importantly they have the dedication,” Mithun said.
“As the Sri Lankan players are having only one tournament during a year, the opportunity to increase their match practice is less. It is another drawback in the local golf arena and it mainly affects the youths who have just started to show their talent,” he said.
Commenting further he said that Sri Lanka greatly lacks golf courses. “We only have four at the moment and it is really a weak point in our golf.”
“To play golf you should be rich and it is limited to a certain category of people. I could play golf because my father was an excellent player. If it is for an ordinary person the equipment is too costly. If the sponsors are there we will be able to reach international standards,” he said.
It was time to bring up the topic on the Asian Games. According to Perera, they hardly have any kind of idea of the weather conditions in Qatar. “According to what we heard, the climate will be cold during the tournament. Definitely there will be bigger courses there with different grass. So it will be a different kind of experience for us. We are hoping to do well there,” said Perera.
This teenage player has set his goals to become a professional golfer one day. “I’m trying to achieve it in the next three years. It is not that easy to achieve. You have to be really good to reach the top of the game,” he remarked.