Yesterday (30th August) was a historical day for Sri Lanka as war veteran Dinesh Priyanath Herath won the first-ever Gold medal for Sri Lanka in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Games in men’s Javelin Throw.
Herath won the gold with a new world record of 67.79 meters in the men’s F46 category. The old world record was held by Indian athlete Devendra Jhajharia at the 2016 Rio Paralympics with 63.97 meters and this time he had to settle for a Silver with a throw of 64.35m. The bronze went to another Indian athlete, Sundar Singh Gurjar for a throw of 64.01 meters.
Herath was a Sergeant in Sri Lankan Army and got injured in an enemy fire on 16th December 2008 during the final stages of the war against the LTTE. He severely injured his left arm during the incident and stayed in the hospital for more than four years. In 2014, after his recovery, he took to Parasports.
“It took me four years the piece my hand together. Those were the most testing times of my life. However, javelin has given me everything, it has helped me get my life back together and this gold is the result of all the hard work that I have put in,” said Herath.
Following his glorious win, Herath was promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer 1 by Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army, General Shavendra Silva with approval of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Secretary Ministry of Defence General Kamal Gunaratne (Retd)
During the 2018 Asian Para Games, he had won a gold medal in Javeline Throw with a new Asian Para Games record and at the 2019 World Championships that was held in Dubai, Herath had to settle for a silver medal behind Indian athlete Jhajharia.
Deepal Lekam Ralalage, Sri Lanka’s team leader also shared his excitement about Herath’s win with the media.
“You don’t how much this medal means to me as a nation. We have waited for this day for years. That’s why these tears are not stopping. This gold medal from Herath will carve a new path for the sport in our country. The government was already doing a lot and hopefully, if we can clinch a few more medals from here, then nothing like it,” he said.
Adding more pride to Sri Lanka, along with Herath, Sri Lankan Paralympian Samitha Dulan Kodithuwakku has also secured a bronze medal at Men’s 64 Javelin Throw of 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.