“Racing is in my blood, and I will compete until my last breath,” was the mantra the energetic and legendary motorcross rider Ananda Wedisinghe uttered until he lost his life as a result of a fatal crash during the Nuwara Eliya Road Race in 2017. He was 47 at the time of his untimely demise, [...]


Motorsports fans remember racing legend Ananda Wedisinghe

Motor Sports

Wedisinghe (15) during his final race, moments before the crash

“Racing is in my blood, and I will compete until my last breath,” was the mantra the energetic and legendary motorcross rider Ananda Wedisinghe uttered until he lost his life as a result of a fatal crash during the Nuwara Eliya Road Race in 2017.

He was 47 at the time of his untimely demise, which occurred on May 29 three years ago, breaking the hearts of thousands of motorsport fans and riding fanatics across Sri Lanka and beyond.

Wedisinghe’s competition number ’15′ was an anticipated thrill-giver to many of his followers at any given motorsport event held around the country. He was well known for his daredevil acts on the track, be it rollers, single or double jumps, off-camber corners, step-ups or any move or jump that could involuntarily get the spectators involved with the event.

Born on July 19, 1970 to Siri Wedisinghe and Rosemary Bultjens as the elder of four siblings, Ananda had a twin named Nalanda, who died a month after birth. As the older brother he was an inspiration to younger brothers Udesh and Sajitha, and sister Deepika. Eventually the two younger brothers and the only sister followed Ananda Wedisinghe’s trail to become good riders.

The senior Wedisinghe, Siri, was the role model to young Ananda, whose mother also came from a family connected to motorsports. The young Wedisinghe was just 13 years old when his father passed away following a fatal motor accident.

Soon after reaching 18, in 1988, Wedisinghe moved to Japan in pursuit of greener pastures with the assistance of his close friend Dilantha Malagamuwa, a world renowned motorsport driver and a pride of Sri Lanka. Wedisinghe made his motorcross debut in 1993 in Japan with a podium finish, on his way to become the iconic rider the whole country remembers.

Wedisinghe met his life partner Rumi, a nurse, in Japan and they got married in 1991. Both Ananda and Rumi were proud parents of two sons – Ken and June – and two daughters – Risa and Rina.

Wedisinghe was the Best Rider at the popular Fox Hill Supercross at eight occasions and six out of the whole, were back-to-back wins, which still stands as a record in Sri Lanka. He also went on to become the National Motorcross Champion on numerous occasions, while cementing his status as the rider to watch at any local event.

During a live interview at one of the Fox Hill Supercross events, Wedisinghe stated that he was ‘born to ride’ and went on by saying that he would ‘race until his last breath’, which incidentally became a tragic reality.

Wedisinghe was geared up to win yet another race in the Super Motard up to 450cc event at the Nuwara Eliya Road Race in 2017 on that fateful day of April 23. He was riding neck-to-neck against another star rider of the class, Suraj Perera, and eventually ended up colliding after both riders failed control their machines.

Matters became more intense when Wedisinghe’s bike collided against a safety fence forcing him off it and ending up with a huge impact. His head had crashed against a huge wood log and one of his legs was badly damaged.

Wedisinghe was rushed to the Nuwara Eliya Hospital, but due to lack of facilities authorities transferred him to the Kandy Hospital, where he spent five weeks in the Intensive Care Unit with the aid of a life supporting machine. In the meantime Wedisinghe’s wife Rumi and his children made all efforts to take the celebrated rider to Japan for further treatment, which would cost Rs. 39 million alone as airfare, but failed.

The much loved rider, who had gone beyond his path to help others, mainly the wounded and battered soldiers of Sri Lanka Army, eventually took his last breath leaving many in tears.

“Ananda was a very good human being. He has donated a few ambulances to the Army during the height of the civil war, after getting to know about it. In addition he has donated wheelchairs, artificial limbs and helped in many other ways to those wounded soldiers, while also donating bicycles to the Army. There were many in motorsports, who had riches than Ananda, but he was more generous and caring for the soldiers than any other,” veteran driver and motorsport expert Mahesh Gammanpila stated.

As a tribute to one of the greatest riders to come out from Sri Lanka and in memory of his father, Wedisinghe’s oldest son Ken competed at the Fox Hill Supercross in 2018 under his flagship number ’15′. This gesture received a mixture of overwhelming and emotional reaction from spectators who were gathered.

In recognition of his great services rendered to motorcross and motorcycle sports in Sri Lanka, the organisers of Gajaba Supercross dedicated the Super Motard event to him. The champion rider of the Super Motard event would win the Ananda Wedisinghe Challenge Trophy since 2018, an event the experienced and eminent rider would have easily won had he continued.

Until his shocking demise in 2017, Wedisinghe competed for 24 years recording many wins both globally and locally, but above all his pride and joy was the countless number of followers he earned through this period.

Had he been alive, Wedisinghe would have turned 50 on May 26, but instead his family, friends, fans and the country, are commemorating the third death anniversary of the most loved rider of motorsport history in Sri Lanka.

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