Thilina on screening of elite athletes and their management


Thilina screening Sanjaya Jayasinghe of Sri Lanka Army, National Record Holder in Triple Jump while being watched by Luiz Ramiez (coach from Cuba) and Chathura Rodrigo (Basketball and fitness coach).

Thilina sharing a light moment with Sajith Jayalal (national middle - long distance coach) and Ajith Kuruppu while explaining to a smiling player how taping would help him to compete at the highest level by overcoming his current pain.

Australia-based sports physiotherapist and fitness trainer Thilina Vitharana recently screened national players of many sports, particularly national track and field athletes, at NISS using the latest technology in conjunction with his vast experience in sports physiotherapy and rehabilitation.

This year, it is particularly aimed at players involved in jumping and landing sports where if not managed properly, recurrent injuries is a real possibility due to the dynamics involved in jumping and landing whether he/she is a pole vaulter, netballer, or bowler in cricket, according to Thilina.

Thilina also rightly pointed out that the need for a particular screening to be tailor-made for a "given" sport rather than adopting a generic screening protocol. If such approach is not followed, it is highly likely that unfavourable results can be expected harming the player rather than benefiting. In short, Thilina emphasised that screening is not a panacea. The results should be interpreted very carefully because each player is different in his/her own right. Also just because a deficiency is identified, it doesn’t mean that it should be corrected immediately unless it is an obstacle for his/her optimum performance.

Thilina who has been working closely for over five years with ex-Sri Lankan national basketball coach and sports educator Ajith Kuruppu said that it is a must that coaches, physios, trainers and physicians work together to obtain the optimum output from an individual player or a team. However, Thilina wittingly noted that there should be accountability lying with "one" person when things do not go well as planned eg recurrent knee or shoulder injury with a player.

Thilina also emphasised that there is also a need for proper evaluation of risks and benefits when re-introducing a rehabilitated player to competition. If such is not done potentially resulting in recurrent injuries, not only his/her performance but can also adversely affect his earning capacity as a professional player it can destabilise the team in team sports where each player has a specific role to play in the team.

Thilina used the latest technology in his evaluation of the players but he reiterated that such is a supportive tool only and nothing can replace the experience and analytical ability of the person who conducts it and more importantly the art of listening to the player and his/her coach.

A well-respected national coach summed up the importance of what Thilina has been doing "Thilina knows A-Z in physiotherapy and fitness and he is just amazing. It gave me an immense pleasure just watching how as a fitness trainer he was screening the players and then developing a plan after identifying weaknesses and strengths of a player. If a player complained of any ailment, as a physio, Thilina immediately treated him as well. I believe that being a keen cricketer playing competitive cricket from younger age, he has the unique ability to easily relate to an injured player. He is very approachable to us and a very humble person. Thilina is a whole package and I do hope that he will continue helping Sri Lanka for many years to come".

Thilina is also very appreciative of the support given by sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera, Director General of National Institute of Sport Medicine Dr Lakshman Edirisinghe, Director General of National Institute of Sports Science Mr Sajith Jayalal, sports physician Dr Lal Ekanayake and their staff at all levels.

Thilina has an undiminishing gratitude for Kuruppu. "If not for Ajith Kuruppu’s initiative in 2013 and his perseverance since, I would not have got an opportunity to work in Sri Lanka which is the country of my parents and now mine as well in a big way".

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