Sports Peoples

Susanthika Jayasinghe

Deshabandu Susanthika Jayasinghe  (born December 17, 1975) is a Sri Lankansprint athlete specializing in the 100 and 200 metres. She won the Olympicsilver medal for the 200m event in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, the second Sri Lankan to win an Olympic medal and the first and only Asian to win an Olympic or world championship medal in a sprint event. She also won two gold medals at the 2007 Asian Athletics Championships and a bronze medal at the 2007 IAAF World Championships. She is known as the Asian Black Mare.

Early life

Jayasinghe was born in Uduwaka, Sri Lanka; brought up in a poor family in a small village 60 kilometres north of Colombo, where running spikes cost more than the average month’s wage, she had no access to proper sports equipment or coaches.

In the 200 m race at the 1997 World Championships and then travelled to the United States of America to train for the 2000 Summer Olympics. With no support from her national athletics association, she had to go heavily into debt to reach the Olympics, but in the Women’s 200 meters finished behind Marion Jones and Pauline Davis-Thompson to win the bronze medal and become Sri Lanka’s first Olympic medalist since 1948. On October 5, 2007, Jones admitted to having taken performance-enhancing drugs prior to the Olympics, and Jayasinghe was later awarded the silver medal.

Jayasinghe was suspended from competition in April 1998 for failing a drug test that she claimed was rigged because of her political beliefs and a falling out with a Sports Ministry official. She was later cleared of the offense. During a press conference for the women’s 200m medalists at the 2000 Olympics, when asked whether her country would be proud of her, she said in a quiet voice:

She then went on to speak of officials coming to her house, giving her a drug test and refusing to seal the urine specimen with her watching. She refused to sign the release. Later they told her she had tested positive for nandrolone. By the time she was cleared, she was no longer welcome by her country’s sporting establishment.

After returning home with her Olympic medal she was attacked by a male athlete because, she believed, she had been supporting former government members in an election campaign. However, after her medal achievement she was supported by a national fundraising drive in her homeland.

She visited Los Angeles to train with Nagalingam Ethirveerasingam (Asian Games Gold Medalist in the high jump in 1958, and two time Olympian in the high jump, in 1952 and 1956). Shortly thereafter, she won gold medals in the 100 m and 200 m at the 2007 Asian Athletics Championships in Jordan and a bronze medal in the 200 m race at the 2007 IAAF World Championships. It was her first World Championship medal in 10 years. On 13 August 2007 she was ranked by the IAAF as 18th in the world for the 100 m sprint and 20th in the world for the 200 m sprint.

On February 5, 2009, Jayasinghe announced her retirement from sports in order to focus on becoming a mother. On March 31, 2009, she gave birth to a baby boy.

In November 2010 she announced her plan to return to competition.

Post-sports career

Jayasinghe contested the 2010 general election from the Kegalle district from the United People’s Freedom Alliance, however failed to secure a seat. . In 2016, she was appointed as an adviser in the Sports Ministry for selecting and training prospective track athletes. In June 2017, she attempted to sell her silver medal due to suspension of her Sports Ministry pay.

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