History maker Nethmi sets her sight on Olympics  

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18-year-old Nethmi Ahinsa Fernando created history by winning a Bronze medal for wrestling, and is determined to win a Gold medal at the Olympics despite her target in the Commonwealth Games ended in third place.

Hailing from Pannala, Kurunegala, Nethmi beat Australian Irene Symeonidis in the Women’s Freestyle 57 KG on Friday by 10 points to nil (victory by technical superiority – without any point scored by the opponent).

“My target was to win a Gold medal, but it ended up by winning the Bronze, and I am happy and proud of myself with the result which created history for Sri Lanka Wrestling,’’ said Nethmi after the medal presentation. She is the third Sri Lankan athlete to win a medal.

She hails from the Kurunegala District, from where two other Commonwealth Games Bronze medallists hail – weightlifter Dilanka Isuru Kumara and 100m runner Yupun Abeyakoon, who are from Pannala and Wennappuwa.

“Wrestling is not a popular sport in Sri Lanka, but this sport has a historic value which people are not aware of, and I believe this will be an eye opener and boost for the sport.

“I lost to an Indian, who also beat the Australian. My coach asked me to follow the Indian wrestler’s tactics – how she overcame the Australian – so, I did well with the coach’s advice and managed to overcome my opponent to secure this historic medal,” said Nethmi.

“During the final I saw the Sri Lankan flag and the cheering from my Sri Lanka supporters, and was determined to win another medal for mother Lanka.”

“First of all, I must thank my coach T.S. Suranga Kumara, who is the special person behind my success. He committed himself to me. Sometimes he was like a father, coach and a friend to me. He never allowed me to use the mobile phone and also never allowed me to have any relationship with anyone, because those things will affect my training. So, thanks to my coach for guiding me, and I will continue training with him for my future targets. Even his wife supported me in a big way. Sometimes she massaged me and I will never forget those things.”

She also praised and expressed her gratitude to her motivator, former Commonwealth Games Bronze medal boxer Anusha Kodithuwakku.  

She also did not forget to thank all the people who were behind her success: President of Sri Lanka Wrestling Federation and NOC, for sending her to Hungary for two-months training before coming to the Games, and her sponsor Crysbro.

She also expressed her thanks to the principal and teaching staff of her school Welpalla Maha Vidyalaya, for giving her extra time to do the sport.   

By Asanka Gammanpila in Birmingham