The coaching committee of SLA has set tough selection standard for athletes for the next Asian Games.The athletes have to be upto the bronze medal winning standard of the last 2018 Jakarta Asian Games to qualify for selections .This is a very good challenge for athletes to meet the required standard. Based on this year’s performance an athlete who is almost certain to secure a place in the National team is US based high jumper Ushan Thivanka whose National record performance of 2.30m last May is above the qualifying standard of 2.25m.
Thivanka became the first Sourh Asian high jumper to hit 2.30m mark at the Lone Star Conference Outdoor Track and Field championships in Texas .That was a remarkable achievement .This 2.30 m mark also created a National and South Asian record .However he narrowly missed his Olympic chance.If Thivanka would improve his jump by a further 0.03 meters he would be able to get necessary direct Olympic qualification.
The 23 year old high jumpers ambition to take part in Asian Games as well as Olympics which is any athletes ultimate goal .He has now set himself major goals to achieve in future and has a strategy in place to reach there. Thivanka’s had many obstacles to reach this level. The product of Karunaratne Buddhist School Welisara later crossed over to Maris Stella College Negombo which was the turning point of his athletic career.
However Thivanka endured difficult childhood As both his parents were affected by Polio.
When he studied at Maris Stella Negombo first time stole the limelight in 2016 with a leap of 2.17m as a 18 year old , a height he had never tried in training before that. Later in 2018 he leaped 2.24m becoming SL’s number one high jumper in 2018 and was shortlisted for the Asian Games team.
World record holder in the men’s high jump Cuban Sotomayer (2.45m) is Thivanka’s role model .After getting a scholarship at Texas A&M University Commerce in August 2020 Thivanka has lived up to his potential by raising the bar to 2.30m which is a National and South Asian record last May
.He is lucky to get good guidance from Rock Light the coach of US athlete Charles Austin who won the 1996 Athlanta Olympic high jump gold .
Thivanka bettered the National high jump record of 2.28m which was set up by former National athlete Manjula Kumara Wijesekara in 2004 and equalled it in 2005 .Manjula presently based in Melbourne also got a scholarship to California to improve his skills.Thivanka had an amazing season this year breaking several records including his college record and National as well as South Asian records .
Thivanka also set up new high jump Indoor record by clearing 2.25m during the Lone Star Conference 2021 event in Texas last February . Thivanka paid a glowing tribute to his past coaches and his parents especially ,Philip Ranjith and Suranjith Fernando his school coaches and now Rock Light .His parents always encouraged him .But Thivanka was not born with a silver spoon enduring a difficult childhood coming from a low income family. He was even compelled to sell his motor car which he won when he was adjudged the best athlete at the 2019 National Sports Festival ,to finance his trip to USA.