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Who was the female racer among the ministers at Port City?

a year ago

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By Dinitha Rathnayake We see and hear about several different types of people in the face of the diverse events happening today in society. There has been a lot of talk about such a woman in recent days – the woman whose pictures were widely circulated of her wearing a sari while riding in an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) at the newly inaugurated ATV track in Port City on 28 October. Although most of us have seen her by now through some media platform or other, and many of us have tried to guess who she could be, only few of us actually know her name and her story. The Morning spoke to this mystery woman making waves with her appearance at that event. Excerpts from the interview are reproduced below. Who are you? Tell us about yourself. I’m Pathmalatha Abeysinghe, also called Padmi. I’m a journalist. I was educated at Thakshila Central College, Horana and graduated from the University of Kelaniya with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Accordingly, I am currently working as a researcher on the subject of astrology. I worked as a presenter at the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) from 1983, and also worked as a news presenter at ITN (Independent Television Network). I also worked as a media co-ordinator for various institutions, including Dialog Axiata PLC. I was able to cover health, sports, and entertainment programmes on both television and radio during my career, and was able to work on international platforms, especially during the 16th Commonwealth Games. In the year 2000, we were able to cover the Paralympics in Australia. In 1998, when I was a radio presenter, I joined Dialog in my concept to broadcast the 16th Commonwealth Games live. I am also the first Sri Lankan to make a live report from a foreign country. I also provided live coverage and media coverage at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia. It was a big challenge for me to go abroad at a time when there was not even a computer in Sri Lanka and record live programmes like this with foreigners. In the year 2000, I was able to win the Green Card Lottery, for both myself and my husband who was working as a producer for Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation. In 2004, we started a Wild Asia programme with Arun Dias-Bandaranaike as a production of Soul of Asia Enterprises. More than 400 programmes were aired in this regard. In between this, we started a company called Crate Adventure in 2018, providing Sri Lanka’s first ATV Adventure Trail featuring high-end ATVs by joining hands with global partners. I am the Director of Crate Adventure. The Colombo Dunes ATV Track by Crate Adventure, the first of its kind in Colombo, was launched at Colombo Port City on 28 October, with the public able to make bookings starting from that date. Managed by Crate Adventures Ltd., Colombo Dunes seeks to fill the adventure tourism-sized hole in the market. An ATV is a four-wheel drive vehicle. This vehicle does not travel on highways. ATV can be introduced as a light vehicle that can travel in any territory as the world’s highway systems improve. You can drive the ATVs through sand dunes and experience a one-of-a-kind beach ride on Sri Lanka’s only artificial beach. The special purpose-built trailer will provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for families and senior citizens to explore Sri Lanka’s first man-made beach while the youth enjoy the adrenaline-rushing experience of riding through the dunes. Our country did not have the opportunity to have this new experience. So we thought it would be nice if we could introduce this sport to our country, which is loved by many in foreign countries. We saw an ATV track on the sand in Dubai. We recently opened a different track in Port City, Colombo and called it the Colombo Dune. The Colombo Dune Racecourse was built on a sandy plateau near an artificial beach. The track consists of three parts. They are grouped as A, B, and C. Do you need special training to drive an ATV? Of course not. Anyone who can drive a normal vehicle can drive this vehicle. In particular, we provide training by the company and can be described as a much safer vehicle than ordinary vehicles. At the moment, you are an icon on social media. How do you feel about this? I thank all journalists who covered our inauguration who gave us this support, especially in broadcast media and social media. Why did you think of riding an ATV on the day of the inauguration? I’m not afraid of doing things like this. I love adventure sports. This was our personal investment, and we personally invited several ministers, including Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Namal Rajapaksa as Chief Guest, as well as Minister of Tourism Prasanna Ranatunga and Minister of Transport Pavithra Wanniarachchi. They all came, so I thought of welcoming and entertaining my guests by riding an ATV. I was the one who showed everyone how to ride this ATV. Did you expect to become famous by riding the ATV? No, I had no intention of being famous by riding an ATV on the inauguration day. Were you hesitant to ride the ATV? Was this your first time riding one? No, this is not my first time. I have been riding since 2018. How was the response after the incident? Everyone gave me their love and support. A lot of journalists and media stations contacted me after this incident, even people from social media. The picture that was captured during the ride became very famous and everyone talked about it. Do you believe this should be discussed on all these platforms, all because you are a woman and you wore a saree while riding the ATV? I think if it’s something which should be discussed, it should be discussed. Journalists promoted it as a positive news item. This is an adventure sport which was not in the country, and I also think being a woman was a plus-point to grab attention. Was this a publicity stunt? We know what publicity means. This was not a publicity stunt. There are two sides to everything that happens when we talk about that incident. If one is seeing it as someone doing something wrong, it could be said that it is a mental weakness of that person. You have to have a high level of mind to see it properly. Only someone who has developed their mindset can appreciate seeing something in the right way. We need to correct our viewing angles. Launched with the participation of local and foreign tourists, this project is an opportunity for the country to receive foreign exchange. We need to make new design investments in a way that enjoys life. Do you think women in Sri Lanka would be inspired by this action, since society in Sri Lanka does not encourage women in adventure sports? I’m a mother of a son who is working as a PhD researcher in Finland. I think most of the women in Sri Lanka do not get the chance to work on what they like. All framed by society during marriage and even before marriage; most of them suffer this life. We need to enjoy this life and experience what we like to do. Did the Government support this investment? Yes, according to the rules and regulations. Our ticket scheme applies to both local and tourists; they can enjoy this ride at the same rate. Anyone can book a time slot for their ride through the Crate Adventure website. Regarding health and safety, we have partnered with travel giants in the country. Hence, we frequently go through international health and safety audits from agencies like the Switzerland-based SGS. We have scored over 95%, and even sometimes 100%, on these audits. We have three tracks catering to the inexperienced. We provide an instructor for those who need help, with the total sum being Rs. 6,900 per ride, and the ride would last for 10-12 minutes. If someone wants to ride, they can inform the Main Gate, and we will provide support service for locals and tourists. We are open from 8 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. Both men and women are invited to have this experience.

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