Bronze medal winner in London Paralympic Games - 2012, Lance Corporal U.P Pradeep Sanjaya of 4 Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment (4 SLSR) arrived in Sri Lanka Wednesday (12) afternoon to a tumultuous welcome at the Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA).
The red carpet welcome amidst rhythmic beats of Magul Bera
(auspicious drums) and traditional Kandyan Ves
dancers received the returning Sri Lankan team, led by the Bronze medalist, Lance Corporal Uggaldeni Pathiranalage Pradeep Sanjaya (26). His beloved wife, Mrs Nishika Dulanjali and the two-month old son, together with his mother, Mrs K.A.D Ramani were there at the terminal to warmly welcome him.
A special reception, organized jointly by Ministry of Sports, Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, Sri Lanka Army and Sri Lanka’s Federation of Sports for the Disable, received the War Hero cum Sri Lanka’s first-ever Bronze medalist in Paralympic Games at the airport.
Minister of Sports, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, who has already initiated work to construct a new house for the medalist, in addition to the Minister’s pledge for a cash donation of Rs 5 million, was at the BIA to receive the medalist who excelled in Men’s 400 m T-46 event in London Paralympic Games - 2012.
Mr Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Minister of Sports, flanked by Major General R.M.D. Ratnayake, Chairman, Athletic Association of Sri Lanka and Chief of Staff, Major General Jagath Alwis, Director General General Staff at Army Headquarters, Director General of Sports, Brigadier Rohitha Dharmasiri, Commandant, Sri Lanka Sinha Regimental Headquarters at Ambepussa, Brigadier Ravi Ratnasingham, Director Army Sports Control Board and a host of senior state officials and Army officers, garlanded him and the returning team. They welcomed the medalist on arrival at the VIP lounge and shared a couple of views as cameramen scrambled to get a glimpse of the winner.
Soon after the medalist walked out from the terminal, a group of wheelchair-borne War Heroes of the Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment offered him a sentimental welcome before he was ushered to the special jeep for his passage to Colombo in a motorcade. Members of the public at several places along Colombo-Katunayake main road in the meantime accorded separate receptions to the medalist on his way.
Mr Janz Dissanayake, the veteran coach trains the medalist.
Meanwhile, the War Hero cum Bronze medalist Lance Corporal Pradeep Sanjaya is to call on the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya Thursday (13) morning at Army Headquarters where he is expected to receive greetings from his chief and hear of his future prospects.
Lance Corporal Pradeep Sanjaya became paralyzed in his left arm after he fell victim to a mortar blast, triggered by LTTE terrorists in Kilinochchi on 28th December 2008 when humanitarian operations were decisively rolling on, but his determined perseverance and intense training after recovery, stimulated him to continue his participation in Para Games both in Sri Lanka and abroad.
In his post-recovery field of sports, he began to shine, securing the first place in both 400m and 200m events in Army Para Games 2010. In the same Para Games, he made a new Army record in the 4 x 100 relay event, clinching the first place. In the year 2011, he successfully maintained the status quo as he did in the Army Para Games 2010. In Asian Para Games 2010, held in China, he won the first place in the 400m and took part in the 200m events.
During 2012 Selection Trials for Para Olympic Games in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, he created a new Asian record by finishing the 200m in 22.98 seconds claiming the first place. In the same event, he secured the first place in 400m in 50.56 seconds.
In the recently ended Army Para Games 2012, he again emerged victorious in 400m and 200m events and secured the second place in the 4 x 100 relay event.
Lance Corporal Sanjaya’s record victory with a time of 49.28 seconds in the London Paralympic Games - 2012 creates history and reputation for the Army and the country. Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya on hearing the news of the victory expressed his happiness.
Lance Corporal Sanjaya (26) is married and has a son. He studied at Gampaha Mirigama Delwala College and lives in Divuldeniya, Mirigama.
Minister of Sports has gone on record saying that the Paralympic runner, Pradeep Sanjaya’s achievement as unique. “Even the normal athletes who took part in the main games did not enjoy such success. I am hoping to discuss a programme about his future.
It was also reported that a sum of Rs 5 million is to be set apart for Sanjaya’s immediate needs by the Ministry since this is the first Paralympic medal that Sri Lanka has won after Sri Lankans began participating at the Paralympic Games since 1996.
“This time in London, when I won the first round I really wanted to achieve something. Then, in the final when it came to the last one hundred meters I knew that I may be able make it. I gave it a final burst and I knew I went past the competitor from Cyprus at the same time. It was the end of the race and the digital clock was announcing that I had won the Bronze medal. I really felt great,” Pradeep Sanjaya was quoted saying to local media correspondents in London.
166 countries took part in the Paralympic segment of the London Olympics, and Sri Lanka which won the solitary Bronze was placed at the 69th place. India was the only other SAARC region country to win a medal at the Paralympic London this time.