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Ranjith Weerasena – Peterite and National Champion Athlete

Posted on 19 January 2017 by admin

Ranjith the Gentle Giant of National Athletics.

Courtesy: Text and Pictures by Rangi Akbar
National Discus Champion while a schoolboy

Ranjith Weerasena as he is now

Ranjith-Weerasena-during-his-athletic-days-117x300Ranjith Weerasena first won the national discus title as a schoolboy at St. Peter’s in 1959 and successfully defended the title for ten consecutive years. During these years St. Peter’s dominated the Tarbat Schools Athletic Championships.These thoughts raced through my mind as I set out to meet former discus champion Ranjith Weerasena after several years at his residence in Colpetty.

I tried to recollect the memories I had of him. Kind to the point of being embarrassing, polite and ever willing to help, Ranjith’s present plight of being partly paralysed was first told to me by M.G.M.S. Zurfick, the former motorcycle champion. Then and there I made it a point to meet him but the meeting took place much, much later.

Ranjith’s second wife Asoka met me at the entrance of their modest flower arrangement parlour. Then it struck me that Ranjith had a penchant for interior decorating and was quite successful at it in the past. Asoka whisked me to meet Ranjith who was lying flat on a bed. With a little bit of effort from his ’Man Friday’ Buddhika, Ranjith sat up. He was pleased to see me after so many years. He is still his burly self and his wife said that he is now 71 years old.

I asked Asoka (nee Samarawickrema) now Weerasena how she had met Ranjith.

“It was at a function. Ranjith had expressed his desire to meet me. He has said that I resembled his first wife Dr. Sumana Weerasena (a dentist) who passed away in the year 2000.”

With a little bit of egging and a lot of help from Asoka, I managed to get Ranjith to speak about his sporting past.

He had been an outstanding discus thrower at St. Peter’s and had later represented Sri Lanka at several Asian Games. He has represented his club Ace Athletic Club as a schoolboy in 1956 in an Asian meet where he had struck Gold.

Ranjith the champion discus thrower in the 60s

His residence has seen many Old Peterite gatherings in the past and they still linger in the memories who had attended them.

He had been the chairman of the Sri Lanka Olympic Committee in 1980-81 after the late sprinter Julian Grero. He has taken part in several Indo-Ceylon meets and the Singapore Championships with great success. He had even given a helping hand to some of Sri Lanka’s outstanding athletes such as S.L.B. Rosa, K.G. Badra and Wimaladasa to ensure their success.

Switching his role he had been a founder member of the Sri Lanka Veteran’s Athletic Association with hurdler Vijitha Wijesekera and Halaldeen, the sprinter from Wattala in 1980.

Ranjith is a Life member of the Veteran’s Athletic Association and he has a Golden Pin to show for his efforts.

Ranjith was also President of the Amateur Athletic Association (AAA). He recalls happily how President Mahinda Rajapaksa was a member of the AAA. He says that he had even helped athletes such as Susanthika Jayasinghe and Sriyani Kulawansa to get them off the starting blocks in their respective athletic careers.

Asoka is no stranger to sports. She has played netball for Kegalle MV and hockey at District level for Kegalle in 1976. She took me around their spacious abode and to a special place in the sitting room where pictures, certificates and trophies won by Ranjith were adorned.

I would class Ranjith amongst the best Peterite sportsmen I have met and they include the late Archibald Perera, the Paternott brothers – Rodney and Hamish – the late Darrel Wimalaratne, Richard and David Heyn, Royden De Silva, the late Jeffrey De Jong, Roy Dias and Rumesh Ratnayake.


Courtesy of Rangi Akbar – The Sunday Times of October 7, 2012)

Editor's Note: Ranjith Weerasena along with Ranjit Wijeyesekere (In Canada), Errol de Silva (In Canada), Anton Perera (deceased), Winston Tambimuttu, David Van Dort (In Australia), Neville Salvador, brothers Andrew & Godfrey Goonetilleke (deceased), Didacus de Almeida (deceased), Nihal Fonseka (In Canada), N.B. Wilson, Vinitha Rajakaruna, Ranjith Alwis, Rontjen Perera (In California), Kevin Ruberu (In Australia) and many others who were cream of the crop that heralded the strong St. Peter's College Athletics team in the 1950s.

This article certainly brings back fond memories of burly Ranjith Weerasena. He had one brother Dr. Lakshman Weerasena who is a medical practitioner in Colombo.

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