Artistic gymnast headed to the Tokyo Olympics 2021 – Milka Gehani De Silva
By Mahika Panditha
18-year-old Milka Gehani De Silva is set to compete in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, out of the very few Sri Lankans that are participating after qualifying at the continental quota. Milka is currently living in Japan – she was the second Sri Lankan to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and the first reserve, just ahead of Pranati Nayak who is the Indian gymnast in the Asian quota in the ninth Senior Asian Championships that were set to occur from 29 May to 1 June in China but were rescheduled due to the pandemic.
She is trained under the former National Champion Ranjana Tharanga, who recently turned to coaching and has represented Sri Lanka in a variety of international competitions.
Milka will lead the Sri Lankan team alongside Chamara Nuwan Dharmawardana as the overall men’s and women’s team captains; they will carry the flag at the opening ceremony later this month.
She was the Junior National Champion from 2011 to 2014 and then continued on to finish sixth in the Junior Commonwealth Games in 2016. Following this, Milka was the National Champion in 2017 and 2018 too. Later in 2018, Milka finished in the top eight of the Asian Championship in Indonesia.
Joining Milka and Chamara on their Olympic journey will be Matilda Karlsson, Niluka Karunaratne, Tehani Egodawela, Matthew Abeysinghe, Aniqah Gaffoor, Yupun Abeykoon, Nimali Liyanaarachchi, Gamini Jayasinghe, and Himan de Silva. We had the chance to have a quick chat with Milka earlier this week – check out what she had to say!
You’re set to go to the Olympics in Japan, talk to us about that journey.
Actually this is not an easy journey.I had to get through lots of obstacles. There were hundreds of things to overcome. I have sacrificed my whole life to achieve my dream. Finally my dream has become a reality. So, I’m really happy…
How did you get into gymnastics?
When I was a kid, I started to practice gymnastics at school. I was just 7 years old.
What motivates you to keep going every day?
My family always helped me continue with gymnastics. Actually, it was really hard to do practices throughout the whole week, having only one day break. So,I had to manage my time for my studies as well. Without the help of family members I feel like I’d be nothing. They gave me their 100% support. They push me forward, giving me encouragement, strength, and advice. I have been dreaming to take part in the Olympics and win a medal for my country. So I stick to my dreams and work for it.
Talk us through your daily routine in preparation for the Olympics.
I usually spend a lot of time practicing. Especially these days, I work hard to sharpen my skills more.
Do you have any advice for youngsters hoping to participate in the Olympics one day?
I would like to tell them that if they want to achieve something big, they should stick to their dream from the bottom of their hearts. And not only take your dreams as challenges but also love them. Live in your dreams. Put all the things on the line to fulfill it.Believe yourself.
What are your plans for the following years?
I’m eagerly waiting to takepart in the world championship in 2021, the commonwealth in 2022, and the 2024 Olympic Games as well. Winning a medal and making my motherland proud is one of my ultimate dreams.
Aside from focusing on your gymnastics career, how do you like to spend your time?
I would love to listen to music, go out with my friends, and chat with my family members and friends who are in Sri Lanka. I do the things which give me pleasure.
Photos © Sri Lanka Olympic, Sri Lanka Times, Imago Images