A chat with Heshan Unamboowe

Heshan Unamboowe of Trinity College, Kandy, is in the headlines these days as he was a contender to make it to the Beijing Olympics.

Eventually, a Sports Ministry ruling went against the talented swimmer, who rose to the limelight with several medals in the South Asian Games in Colombo even before his 15th birthday.

Putting behind the disappointment of Olympics, Unamboowe created a sensation in the recently concluded 35th All-Island Swimming and Diving Championship. The teenager took part in three events in the championship and won all three and went onto establish new meet records as well. Heshan was named joint-champion in that age group together with Diluka Thibbotumunuwa.

‘Sunday Island – Sportstar’ met the young swimming prodigy for a brief chat during the swimming championship.

Here are the excerpts:

Question: Tell us how you got into swimming?

Answer: When I was four years old, I had the wheez and the doctors advised my parents to introduce me to swimming as part of the medical treatment. So there you go, it all started that way. From thereon, I felt interested and I continued.

Question: What do you consider as your highest achievement?

Answer: I guess the Asian Age Group Swimming Championship held three years ago in Bangkok, Thailand, where I won a gold, a silver and a bronze. The events were 50 meter backstroke, 200 meter backstroke and the 100 back. So far, that’s the highest achievement for me. That’s an unforgettable experience to swim with the best in the region and to emerge victorious.

Question: Any future goals?

Answer: To compete in the Olympics and to do my best to win a medal for Sri Lanka. There haven’t been that many medals won for us in that level.

Question: How did it feel to miss out from the Olympic contingent this year?

Answer: I was informed that there will be a trial. But eventually, it was cancelled. I was a bit hurt.

Question: What’s your favourite stroke?

Answer: I like the 50m and 100m Backstroke and Freestyle.

Question: How do you manage to do your studies while engaging in swimming?

Answer: I do my practices every morning. And then in the evening of Mondays and Fridays. That’s how it goes. I am sitting for the GCE O/L Exam this year.

Question: Tell us something about your family?

Answer: My father is an Engineer and he works abroad. My mother is a housewife. My sister Heshani is involved in swimming too.

Question: Your favourite swimmer?

Answer: Michel Phelps of the United States.

Question: Your coaches?

Answer: U.H. Pemlath and U.H. Sugath.

Question: Your hobbies?

Answer: There’s hardly anytime for me for hobbies. But when I do get some spare time, I like to listen to music and to read books.

Question: What’s the secret of your success?

Answer: To be successful in anything, you should have an interest within yourself. Nobody can create that interest on your behalf. Nothing is impossible if you love it and have the courage to practice it consistently.

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