With the enormous enchant of a wise mother, our protagonist, Thedini Thushara De Silva Jayawardhana, took the first step of the long journey of her table tennis career. Starting from the very basics in grade one, she continuously prolongs her table tennis journey by achieving many awards and rewards.
Thedini is a multitalented and versatile soul who balanced all academic work by taking table tennis as the leading carrier, all together with other extracurricular activities. Because of all her hard work, Thedini is reading for a Sports Science & Management degree in the Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka, faculty of Applied sciences, while continuing her Table Tennis Career forward.
With this month's article, let us get into the story of this victorious persona with highlights of the dominant parts of her inciting life, which she shared with us.
How were you introduced to Table tennis?
My brilliant mom wanted me to interact with a sport from the very beginning of schooling. Table tennis was a trendy sport in my school, Dharmashoka college, so I started to play table tennis from grade one, starting from the basics.
What made you carry on with sports?
Though I didn't have a giant sports background in my family, their constant assistance made me start and carry on with my sports. In addition, all my achievements and failures encouraged me to love table tennis and continue the journey.
How was the support from your family to proceed with your journey?
As I mentioned earlier, I got tremendous support from my family. I'm sure it'll be there in my future too. Though my father was abroad, my mother was the shadow who was always with me. Even my father didn't restrict me in my sports career but supported and motivated me. In addition, I have an encouraging sister, and like a miracle, my brother-in-law is also a good table tennis player.
What are the most remarkable achievements so far?
Starting from grade 2, being the runner-up in an all-island tournament, I participated in many matches after that and got numerous awards and rewards.
My first overseas tour was in grade 9 to represent South Asian Junior. Then I continued representing the South Asian table tennis championship and won the Junior team silver medal in 2014 and cadets girls Teamed silver medal in 2012.
In addition, I Represented the Asian Junior table tennis championship in India in the year 2014. Other than that, I participated in many all-island, provincial and interschool competitions and won many rewards.
During my school life, I was able to get school colors in 2012-2015, Sri Lanka School Games Colors (MILO Colors) in 2014, Southern province colors in 2013-2014 as well as Sri Lanka table tennis colors in
2007,2013,2014. I represented the Sri Lankan Table Tennis Team during university time in the 30th World University Games – Napoli, Italy, in 2019. Then again, I was lucky enough to be represented in ONNG Indian Junior & Cadet Open ITTF Global Junior Circuit 2011 in India, and I won Cadets Girls Team Browns Medal and got achievements in various tournaments organized by universities like Mora Smashes, SIEG.
What are the challenges you faced in your sports career
To be honest, I didn't concern them as challenges but rather lifetime experiences.
It was hard to cover schoolwork with tournaments, especially in grade 11 with my GCE O/L examination. Sometimes there were overseas tournaments which made me go away from academic assignments for weeks. But I could manage them all with the great help of the school, teachers, family, and friends.
Night-time matches and training were challenging, but I always got the assistant of Understandable parents, especially my mum.
How did you balance both practice and academics?
I think doing it at the last moment causes lots of issues, including stress and depression. Therefore, I always cover my academics early. When an exam comes through, I finish my work as soon as possible. But as we all know, we must study when there is an exam. I had times where I learned even during matches, whenever I was free. Balancing is a must for anyone, and sports give the best teachings on that. Therefore, I always balanced my academics with my Table Tennis career.
Even I tried to relate my degree with Table Tennis by following a sports science and managing degree. It bonds with my future dreams and helps me a lot to balance all my work.
What are the other extracurricular activities that you have done?
I started dancing at school and participated in all island competitions. I was a girl guide and became head prefect of the school in 2016/2017.
What do you think about the reluctance among girls to join sports, especially at the university level?
In my opinion, it is a must to do a sport for both girls and boys without thinking about gender. It makes the personality of a girl grandly interact with society. Therefore, I would be happy if the government could make sports compulsory for both girls and boys.
Is it okay for a beginner to start sports at university with a heavy workload and stress?
Doing a sport is the best way to identify and connect with others. University is not like school. It is a new life with freedom and a massive society with lots of same-age people. But most university students don't like to do a sport by thinking about academic workload. So, if you have a heavy workload and are stressed, you are the best one to start a sport. Because doing a sport is a great approach to release your academic stress and to know how others balance their lives.
What do you have to say to the newbies in university about sports?
It is easy for a university student to begin and get into a sport smoothly and instantly as bright and understandable individuals. Though you are a novel, you should not worry. When you are doing a sport, the members of the crew are like your family. You can learn, practice with them to move forward by connecting. Therefore, the university is the best place to start a sport. It will add many valuable skills to your entire life, including personality improvement.
How do you think novels can become good players at the university level?
First, you must love what you do. Then you get the courage to continue it in the path of success. In university, we have lots of friends who know about sports. We can have the guide of them to train. So never give up and do your best.
What are the areas that you think should be changed in university sports?
Though SLUG is great, it's better to motivate students to interact more with sports and be concerned about sports. It is good to have a system for the newbies to interact further with sports by having good coaches and time. Furthermore, it is better to update and improve University teams and polish team members' talents from time to time.
There are lots of challenges and failures. So how do you motivate yourself on those?
Life has both ups and downs. Unfortunately, we must bear both of them.
I can remember, I cried a lot in my failures when I was a kid. But my coaches trained me not to cry but to learn from failures. I had faced many losses in my career. But each of them gave me more strength and experience to become this far in my Table Tennis journey.
What are the skills you have added to your life through sports?
The best thing is discipline. Maintaining proper discipline is a must in sports which we can apply even to our day-to-day lives.
Team working, listening, and respecting others, and leadership development help to have good social wellbeing.
This skill is especially for girls. Sports always teach us to never give up on our failures. We must rise again by learning from them. One of the best skills for girls through sports is bearing and having the confidence to try again by learning from down lifetimes.
What are your future dreams?
First, I want to complete my degree precisely, do higher studies and go to the front line in sports. Since my degree is relatable with sports, they are both interconnected. Second, after my higher studies, I want to give a hand to the students who do sports.
Whom would you like to thank for helping in your way to success?
In the first place, I would love to thank my beloved parents and the family for their significant support.
Starting from Nishan sir, who taught me how to hold a racket, I would like to pay my heartiest gratitude to all the coaches, teachers in charge, and other teachers, school, university, lecturers starting from the department head, schoolmates, and my friends in university.
Throughout her life, it is believed that both men and women, regardless of gender, can grab lifetime benefits by doing sports. However, If we work hard, stay focused, and believe that we can, nothing is impossible. We pay our heartiest gratitude to the motivational, extraordinary Thedini Jayawardana for sharing those extravagant facts with us by giving an important message for society. As always with affection, we MoraSpirit team would like to wish you the best regards in her future.