NOC nominates Thilaka for IOC honours
Deshabandu Thilaka Jinadasa has been heralded with the rare honour of being nominated for Sri Lanka’s IOC Women and Sport award for the year 2021.
Thilaka was the very first female Olympian to represent Sri Lanka at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, and is also a double International who represented Sri Lanka in both Athletics and Netball. She is the only Sri Lankan athlete to have represented the country at five consecutive South Asian Games and won medals in all of them (one Gold, four Silver and four Bronze).
She was also the National Netball team vice-captain when the team won the Asian Netball Championship title in 1997 in Singapore.
Expressing her feelings on this nomination, the versatile sports veteran Thilaka said: “I feel it is a great honour and privilege being nominated as the IOC nominee of the Women and Sport Award. I have been involved with two sports at the very top level – as an athlete and an administrator cum coach - and my greatest passion in this is my ability to uplift the cause of women’s sport in this country and fight towards equality in sport”.
While she was an athlete, she felt there was a lack of women’s participation in sports in Sri Lanka; therefore, she decided to become a coach to promote women in sports. With the experience she gained as a top athlete, she became a role model to serve and enrich the lives of young girls in rural areas of Sri Lanka, by coaching them in netball and athletics.
Thilaka’s dream came true when she became an International Netball Coach, IAAF Level-1 Athletics Coach and Australian Strength and Conditioning Level-1 Coach to empower women through sports. Under her guidance as National netball coach, Sri Lanka won the Asian Netball Championship title twice - in 2009 and 2018.
Currently, she is working as a Team Leader Sports Development at Gateway Colleges (Group), a leading school in the country with over 5,000 students. Thilaka was the very first female sportsperson to be recognised at the National Hero’s Day in 1988, where she was awarded National honours with the title ‘Deshabandu’ by the President of Sri Lanka for her achievement and dedication to Sports.
Last year activist and former reputed netball player Caryll Tozer was nominated for this accolade by NOC SL.