A tan-coloured, black-haired young man was posing his muscles on the stage at The Great Lake Muscle & Model Classic Championship Competition on the 28th of May 2022 at Taupo, sponsored by ICN New Zealand, with ambition-filled eyes. After intense consideration, the organisers concluded and bestowed him with the first place ‘Men’s Physique First Timer’ (Gold) award. A murmur buzzed among the audience. Gathering cheered him up. Congratulations poured in. Then the venue subsided to the routine.
The name was Ruwan Palihawadana, an Auckland-based New Zealander. But Ruwan’s story did not end there. He participated in three more competitions on the same day at the same venue. They were the Men’s Fitness-Novice Category, the Men’s Fitness-First Timer Category, and the Men’s Fitness-Open Category.
The organisers declared the results of the second one, the Men’s Fitness-Novice Category. The one-time GSE technician at the Emirates, Dubai, now a GSE technician at the Auckland Air-Port grabbed yet another glistening gold medal meant for the category. The hum in the audience turned into loud cheering. The surprise-shocked gathering was more inquisitive. One attendee asked his neighbour where he came from and what language he spoke. The non-stop smiling man was for them a new stage terminator. A few well-wishers flocked around and hugged him. A thumb up by yet another waved in the air. A few gave a clap and applause.
The 37-year-old bachelor Ruwan, hailing from Pothuhara, a lush and prosperous suburb in the Kurunegala district, moved into New Zealand in 2018 in search of greener pastures. In the school days he had been a cricket captain at the Maliyadeva Model School. Also, he represented the school oriental band. In German Tech Moratuwa, he was the band leader in 2007 but never was a fitness enthusiast. He took an interest in fitness merely to be healthy and look good. But his fortune changed for him in this land of opportunities. He was fascinated by the new direction and followed the online training courses under the able coach Gayan Perera.
The one-day-double gold medalist did not end his day at that. The results of the other two competitions were out, and Ruwan won two more silver medals, one for each. Winning two gold medals and two silver medals on a maiden day at the same venue by a newcomer is a rare spectacle.
We, SrilankaNZ, congratulate Ruwan for this achievement as a son of mother Sri Lanka.