The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Into the deep end

Mirror Magazine catches up with two young swimmers Reshika Udugampola and Heshan Unamboowe who are looking to do battle on the world’s ultimate sports stage

Impeccably attired and flanked by their fellow Olympians, Heshan Unamboowe and Reshika Udugampola brandished broad smiles as they gazed unflinchingly at the wall of cameramen and photographers in front of them.  As a wave of clicks descended over them, the two young swimmers were unquestionably aware that the unofficial starting gun for their Olympic journey had just been sounded.



That was nearly two weeks ago, when the members of the Sri Lankan Olympic contingent assembled for their official photograph and send-off at the scenic entrance of the National Olympic Committee headquarters. Both the 20-year-old Heshan and the 18-year-old Reshika are now gathered amidst countless other stars, from a multitude of nations, in England’s capital, where they will look to do battle on the world’s ultimate sports stage.

It was actually this same sporting spectacle which inspired Reshika to take to the sport after she was completely enthralled by what she witnessed in the pool during the games in Athens.

“I feel very excited to be going to London. This is a once in a lifetime chance. The first thing I want to do when I get there though is get into the pool,” she says with obvious enthusiasm.

Away from the competition though, Reshika is eager to experience the history, culture and landscape of London, a place she has never been to before.

“I don’t really like to party and I’m not a shopaholic at all so I just want to go around and see London.”
Heshan, who though still very young has been among the country’s elite swimmers, also echoes these sentiments.
“I definitely want to go sightseeing and really explore London, to meet new people. There will also be a lot of activity in the (Olympic) village, so I’m looking forward to that,” he says. Right now though, the young swimmer explains that he is engulfed in nervousness and excitement at being able to fulfill his long-held aspiration.

“I have been looking forward to this moment for a very long time. This is one of the best achievements of my swimming career and I’m hoping to do my best. I remember as a kid I used to watch all these world class swimmers and I knew I could do something special in the future. I just kept working hard for it and now my dream has become a reality.” However, Heshan says that if he was not swimming he would probably be scampering across a rugby field somewhere in his hometown of Kandy, given his unquenchable love for the sport.
“I love rugby and always wanted to play it when I was in Trinity. I would never miss a Bradby. I always wanted to wear the school jersey and play, but because I took to swimming that was not possible.”

Both he and Reshika added that they hoped to reconnect with old friends from past international meets who broadened their cultural horizons and who, like them, will be making their Olympic debut.

Whatever they do in or away from the pool, Reshika and Heshan are determined to absorb every ounce of atmosphere at these London games. They know that whether they win or lose, these games will forever remain a defining moment in their young lives.
Pix by Amila Gamage

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