Everything about him shouts out the word huge. “Too huge,” says the number plate on his car while his e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) also identifies him so.
But being “huge” is an asset not only for him as an individual but also for his home country, Sri Lanka. For, Jeshan Fernando has been waving the mighty flag of Sri Lankan bodybuilding in the United States for the last 10 years.
Among his more recent achievements is the successful completion of the 2008 contest season with three 1st place finishes (for two of which he won the overall award) and two 2nd place finishes. In July this year Jeshan lost the coveted all American Junior National title in his class (bantam weight) by a whisker, coming second at the competition held in Chicago.
And to top it all he attained “professional status” with the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation (WNBF).
Jeshan, the eldest son of well-known Paediatrician Dr. Ajith Fernando, had his initiation to weight training at the Sports Ministry in Sri Lanka in 1994. Heavily into athletics at the time, his coach, Derwin Silva, had the athletics team training with weights during the off-season.
“My muscles responded very quickly to the stimulus of the weight resistance which resulted in correspondingly fast gains in strength and size. All of a sudden sprinting 100m became less appealing and I joined Power World in Kollupitiya to develop my weight training,” says Jeshan, a Mechanical Engineer working in Virginia, USA, in an e-mail to The Sunday Times. Jeshan and Amy, his lovely wife who has been a tower of strength to him, are domiciled in Norfolk, Virginia.
It was only after reading Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding did he learn about competitive bodybuilding. Shortly thereafter he left for America to continue his studies and while at university, saw the bodybuilding contest, ‘Mr. Virginia Tech’.
Jeshan competed for the very first time in the same contest the following year and was placed 3rd in the short class division.
Eighteen contests (including 1999 Mr. Virginia Tech - 1st place lightweight; 2000 NASF Colonial - 1st place short class; 2008 INBF Natural East Coast - 1st place lightweight; 2008 INBF Natural North America - 1st place lightweight & overall; and 2008 NPC Natural East Coast Tournament of Champions - 1st place bantamweight & overall) and 10 years later, Jeshan has attained professional bodybuilder status, entitling him to compete for prize money.
In the WNBF, all competitors are subjected to a lie detector test to test for drug use. The winners also have to undergo a urine test. “There is no place in bodybuilding for drugs,” is Jeshan’s rigid stance on this issue.
With Jeshan securing the ‘title’ of Men's Overall Winner Metabolix Natural North America 2008, he becomes the Face of Maximum Muscle Mass (M3) and also ambassador for this well-known body-building dietary supplement.