Having started fitness training at age 50, on the instructions of the Fitness Centre of the Ministry of Sports (MoS), to get over his knee problems, Srilal Alahakoon ended up an international sprinter in no time.
For successfully completing its fitness programme, the MoS awarded Alahakoon a certificate to train up-and-coming athletes.
But, according to Alahakoon, none of the youngsters came to him, as they all went in search of reputed instructors.
The MoS then gave him a challenge, to condition a foreigner in 3 months.
Even though Alahakoon failed to reach the target on time, he reduced the foreigners medicine intake from 75% to 25% in 4-and-a-half months.
This courageous athlete spoke to Sunday Times on his achievements in reaching international standards, after his courses.
“Realising that I was in peak physical condition, following the fitness programmes, I decided to take part at the 2016 Mercantile Athletic Championship, in the Over (O)-55 category, but failed to perform well. Nevertheless, I never gave up hope. I was confident of achieving good results at the next meet,” he said.
With a smile on his face, Alahakoon said, “At the 2017 meet, I established records in the 100m, 200m and 400m sprints, clocking 13.4secs, 27.47secs and 1.01min respectively, in the O-55 category.”
Going from strength to strength, this veteran athlete, at the age of 57 years, broke his existing records in the three events at the 2018 Mercantile Athletic Championship, with new times in of 13.01secs in the 100m, 27.04secs in the 200m and 1.03min in the 400m, Alahakoon rewrote the history books in Mercantile Athletics.
Earlier in his career, representing Sri Lanka at the Asian Masters Championship in 2017, he equaled the O-55 years 200m record of 27.03secs.
At the 2018 World Masters Championship held in Spain, Alahakoon finished 17th, out of 248 athletes. and was the only Asian to be in the top 20, with the next Asian, a Chinese, placed 29th.
Alahakoon will now travel to Kuching, Malaysia, to represent Sri Lanka at the 21st Asian Masters Athletic Championship to be held from December 2-6.
At this meet, in addition to his pet 3 sprint events, Alahakoon will take part in the 4×100 and 4×400 relays too.
His main target is to have a good timing in the 200m.
On his return, he will start training for the 2020 World Masters Championship in Canada.
Every elderly Sri Lankan should be proud of this athlete, who had various ailments, but achieved this position by diligently following the fitness courses.
He advises everyone to do the routine exercises and take a balanced diet.
As a physical trainer, who charges no fees, he is training 15-year-old Venura from Yatihena MV in the Gampaha District, and predicts he will go a long way as an athlete, as Alahakoon sees extraordinary talent in this youngster.