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Thimasha Pathirage

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If I could think of a sport that is evidently an art, it would be gymnastics. It requires a well-rounded individual to truly the know the lines and the curves, the bars, the floors, the rings and the vaults. Today, I’m featuring someone who truly created her moment as an artist within the sport of gymnastics; Thimasha Pathirage. 

Being active for over a decade in Gymnastics, she was a stellar performer at the Youth Commonwealth Gymnastics and is a former Gymnastics Open National Champion. She also made her mark during her school days winning Milo National Colors for gymnastics for seven consecutive years! Apart from a high-mileage sporting career, she is an overseas medical-student and an emerging Entrepreneur. Although, there’s quite a bit on her plate, she would still manage to cram in a Netflix binge session and a vacation to her annual plans. During her vacation I found the fortune of roping her in for a conversation. 

 

(1)It’s exciting to have a conversation with you Thimasha. I’ve always known you to be an all-rounder but you specifically shined at the gym! How did your gymnastics career begin? Likewise Hirushi. Well, I was in grade two when I first attempted gymnastics. And frankly, I was a swimmer earlier! I can recall how my mom initially didn’t want me to try gymnastics because she felt it was a risky sport, but later on she became one of the most supportive individuals in my journey. Fortunately, I had a body that was flexible so I really enjoyed it from day one itself, doing splits and other things. It felt like a gift from god.

(2)Why gymnastics? As I mentioned earlier, I had no idea I was good at it. When my coach saw my potential, he insisted that I should join the practice sessions. That’s when I grew to see gymnastics as my key passion. It literally just became my life.

(3)Out of many different types of events in gymnastics, is there a particular form you’re very passionate in? I am an artistic gymnast! We have four apparatuses that we have to compete in as an all-round gymnast. They are uneven bars, balancing beam, vault, and floor exercises! My favorite was floor exercises as we have to perform routines that include very challenging twists and a variety of skills along with dancing. I have always loved dancing so I thought this event is much more fun to practice. But with my growth, I considered balancing beam to be my best and favorite event, as it held skills of a different caliber that required commitment and practice. 

(4)Being a busy medical student, does it make it harder for you to revisit the gym and participate in your sport? Yes, it was hard for me to continue artistic gymnastics whilst being a medical student. However, I keep in touch with my craft in other ways, for instance attending ballet, contemporary dancing and even participating in university competitions. I also always find ways to visit a gymnastics gym annually.

(5)Being an internationally recognized gymnast, you face numerous challenges related to health, fitness, nutrition and so on. What are some of the daily rules or guidelines you follow? Growing up, I had a great metabolism, hence I had the perfect balance even with a huge appetite. But with my muscles getting sore easily, I had to commit to stretching exercises and physiotherapy before I got into hard training. My diet was healthy with the occasional consumption of fruits and protein for muscle growth, and of course the right quantity of carbohydrates.

 

 

(6)Let’s talk about your global experience in Sports? I participated in international training camps held in Thailand and Switzerland in 2006 and 2009. This gave me exposure on techniques related to artistic gymnastics. I subsequently, obtained membership at the International Gymnastics Federation. In 2010, I was captaining my school team at the Asian Gymnastics Display Festival in Hong Kong and our squad placed third in one of the categories. We also won awards for Sri Lanka at Gymfest Singapore. In 2011, I also represented Sri Lanka at the Forth Commonwealth Youth Games held in the Isle of Man, and was selected to the final round in the Women’s All Round Championship category. Eventually, I placed nineteenth in the Commonwealth in individual events. 

(7)Let’s walk down memory lane and talk about some of your unforgettable moments in gymnastics? At the age of eleven, I attempted a front somersault on a beam, for the first time in a competition. Unfortunately, I fell off the beam, unable to maintain balance, and was holding on to the beam desperately to avoid falling to the ground. I thought that as long as I don't hit the floor, it won’t be a fault, although I was taught otherwise. My coach eventually came to me and said, “it’s already a fault so take a thirty seconds timeout and finish your routine.” It was quite funny and all the judges had a good laugh seeing me hanging on the bar like a little monkey.

(8)Do you feel that Sri Lanka needs to give more adequate attention to female athletes? I would say international gymnasts have more privilege when it comes to infrastructure and facilities. They are much stronger and steadier than our local gymnasts. It actually applies to every sport in Sri Lanka. We just need a streamlined process to support our athletes in general. There are quite a few upcoming female athletes that deserve an international platform. 

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