Roshith competed in the age 30-34 years 200m, 100m and 50m breaststroke events, where he was placed first in the 200m and earned a gold medal and was placed 2nd in both the 100m and 50m events earning 2 silver medals. Sonali competed in the age 35-40 years 100 and 200 meter track events and won gold in both.
On their return to the island both athletes want to shift focus from their victory at the games and bring home a message they feel will benefit more people. ‘In sports, as in a myriad of other spheres, one’s age tends to be considered a cut off line or deciding factor’ explains Roshith who is a successful businessman, father of two and youth pastor at Wow Life Church and “Riverlution” (which is his sports initiative to encourage and inspire others to challenge what they thought were their limits). ‘Because this concept has been unconsciously accepted where lots of people give up on their dreams, ambitions and hopes at a set time in their lives. I was one of them’ he explains.
Roshith was a successful swimmer during his teenage years competing at the schools and club levels, having captained CIS’ swim team and represented SSC. But in his late teens he opted to retire, considering end his sporting career. He explained how his body responded to his mindset, with unhealthy levels of weight gain and harmful habits. ‘I know a lot of people thought I was crazy when I said I was going back to competitive swimming in my thirties, but since I started this journey, there have been so many other athletes who have stepped out of retirement and ended up winning medals and honour for Sri Lanka’ says Roshith who has now begun his own journey of coaching budding athletes.
Sonali’s story is similar, being a successful track and field athlete as a student of St Bridgets, yet opting to stop at the end of her schooling career. ‘Getting back to the sport I loved in my 30s was like a breath of fresh air. There were hundreds of people who told me why I shouldn’t and couldn’t, but I think we all owe it to ourselves to try’ she says. Her gold medal wins would appear that she was right.
Both explain that Sri Lanka has immense potential in terms of sporting capability that has not yet been fully taped into, recognizing two other athletes who competed and won medals in other respective swimming and running events at the APM games 2018. They believe that Sri Lanka has far more potential for gold in international competitions and intend to encourage athletes such as themselves, to hang up the retirement plans and look instead toward contention at regional and international events.