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News  


 

It’s a bus ride home for ‘Golden Girl’

Text and Pix by Kumara Beligahagedara

She won the gold medal for the 400 Metres Open at the Singapore open international athletic meet held recently and returned home. Other than a garland from her colleagues she had no fanfare. This 23-year-old athlete E. W. Upamalika Ratnakumari, a Lance Corporal in the Sri Lanka Army Women Corps, was escorted to Colombo in an army vehicle but she left for her home, a mud walled house with a tin sheet roof at Pallegama, Dambulla, by bus.

Several athletes from Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Singapore and Malaysia took part in the 400 metre event but Upamalika was the winner.
She had lost her father when she was still a small girl but her athletic ability was honed by running behind cattle, climbing trees to pluck fruits and walking to school and in fact going on foot everywhere.

Though there was a reception for her from her school and the local government body, she was just another passenger in a bus from Colombo to Dambulla. Her mother who had brought up four children as a widow said all the children were brought up under great difficulties without electricity or any other facilities. Even today there is no proper road to the home of this great athlete who did Sri Lanka proud and she did not make a big issue out of going home by bus.