My height was normal until I was fourteen years. After fourteen suddenly I was growing high which I didn’t like. My height was a real headache for me at some stage. But I was thrilled after I was chosen for the National Team and I never felt odd thereafter.
Standing 6 ft 10” tall, Tharjini Sivalingam was one of the world’s most gifted athletes who unfortunately stepped out of the Sri Lankan national side due to problems with the country’s administration. Ahead of the Asian Championships this month, Tharjini ruled out any chance of her returning to the national side in the near future.
The side for this year’s Asian Championship lacks experience but includes a set of excellent young players who thrived in the junior level in the recent past. However, the inexperienced side that flew to Australia last year, lost almost every game in the tournament.
With love for her motherland, Tharjini said, “I firstly want to say that whenever we played for Sri Lanka, we played because of our love for country. We never played for money or anything of that sort because we were never paid on contract basis, but still, we gave our all to the country. With these present administrators and coach, I don’t want to play for Sri Lanka. We were the champions of Asia and there was a fear factor about us. During tournaments, people will look at us and talk about us because we were that good, but now the national team’s standards have gone down drastically. I would play for my country, I would fight for the coach, only if it is worth it and it is not at the moment.” (dbsjeyaraj.com).
In today’s segment, we look back at the breath-taking career of the giant, Tharjini Sivalingam.
Tharjini Sivalingam was born to a family of six in 1983 at Evinai, Punnalaikattuvan, Jaffna. In her early days, she was quite studious as she obtained excellent grades in the ordinary and advanced level examinations. However, her height at middle school persuaded her to take up netball and she eventually received admission to the Eastern University in Batticaloa.
Following a degree in Tamil, Tharjini always wanted to become a lecturer in the latter part of her life. Her performance at the Batticaloa district netball tournament caught the eye of the Sri Lankan national selectors. Tharjini was brought down to Colombo but she frequently returned to Batticaloa for the exams.
Making her international debut in 2005, Tharjini achieved plenty in just a couple of years. “I think being named as the best shooter in the World Cup (2011) was the best moment for me personally, but winning the Asia Cup in 2009 was also a memorable moment because we trained hard with Thilaka Jinadasa and eventually we won. She is the best coach I have worked with.” she added.
In her brief stay with the national team, Tharjini took Sri Lanka to plenty of wins, improving her skills while making maximum use of her extraordinary height. She made it look pretty easy out in the middle.
With all the delight and success, she also faced a few obstacles in life. She found it pretty difficult to travel in buses as they were usually crowded during the rush hour. Tharjini found it a little uncomfortable when people started staring at her as she walked by.
Nevertheless, she’s grateful for her height as it helped her achieve plenty in life. At 33, Thirjini Sivalingam is employed at Seylan Bank. While she represents Seylan at corporate netball tournaments, her return to the national side seems unlikely at the moment.
During her career as a national player, she managed to successfully continue with her studies while working at the bank. She was indeed multi-talented.
While the odds are against us, Tharjini believes that Sri Lanka still has quite a few talented players in the caliber of Gayani Dissanayake (captain) who deserves to be handled well. Instead of ruling out Sri Lanka’s chances, she think that it would be a tough task to beat Singapore and Malaysia.
Will there be another Tharjini Sivalingam, we never know, probably not in Sri Lanka. We can only hope that she returns to bring back the lost glory before announcing her permanent retirement from the sport.
/ 2 years ago
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