Shooting Champ Suranga | Sunday Observer

Shooting Champ Suranga

id you? know that the gun can? be a? delightful? item in? life? Certainly, you? will never believe it. Because we know? that guns are a destructive? factor in the world and? a very fearsome? item in human history. But we are going to introduce a dynamic person who loves? the gun. He has been using? the gun? for more than two decades. He is not a cowboy or? an illegal gun fighter. He can be introduced? as the shooting ace? in the country. The Youth Observer met him a couple of weeks ago for a? chat. He is? none other than Suranga Fernado, the National Champion in shooting.

‘It’s not over till it’s over.’ This is the motto in his life. “I believe? in it strongly. So, that is the main reason I still keep my place in the? shooting range as a player,” he said during his? conversation with us. “I still play with borrowed? guns. Even though a National Player I have been doing it because our poverty in sports builds up this situation,” he said.

“That is the real situation in my sports career. All these challenges have given me? much courage in life. So, in this? environment I have been participating and representing? my country in? local and overseas competitions and have never given? up the sport even for a second.”

“I can say? that these challenges encourage me. I want to tell other youth? to never? be discouraged? by challenges.

?For more than twenty years, he has? held a gun? and?? it? has become his close friend.

“As a teenager of? thirteen years, I? started the? sport of shooting under my father’s guidance. The player who has influenced me most is my father, a former National Champion in shooting. At that time, he? was in the Army so? I had a military? family background. This gave me the? opportunity to take up shooting. Indeed,? it? also? created a? deep love? for this? sport in me. So, I started it.? Now, the gun and? the sport of shooting is my everlasting love. I hope it? won’t change,” Suranga said.

Now he wears spectacles and? has a mature look.

“I am very close to? my mid thirties? and yet am single.” he added.? To the question” do? you think marriage will be affect your sport badly?”? he laughed and answered? “Do you think that maturity? of age is a barrier for marriage?? I have postponed? having a love affair with a girl or? getting married. My commitment to the sport is the only reason for it”.

“ I believe that a man who becomes a husband, must sacrifice his whole life for his new family life. The children, wife and parents hope? for greater contribution from us for the family.? So, If I? become a fiancé or a husband I cannot? genuinely contribute? to the sport. Now, without any? such obligations ,as a sportsman, I represent my country and it is a matter of great pride? to me.? Mainly? it is the? love? I have for? the sport of shooting. That love has easily postponed my marriage.” He said with a laugh.

?By postponing marriage and never starting a? love affair what? is he trying? to prove?

“With a? wife and children, we cannot? be continually? involved in the sport. At a young age, I? came to? a crossroad in my life and tried to choose? my future path. I knew it was a difficult question.? However, I selected shooting. Some people thought that answer may be a? point of defeat in my personal life. But everyone cannot? easily represent their motherland. But I? took that chance and won several international medals for my country. Do you think that achieving that? could compare? with a family life? If you wanted to win something you must sacrifice another thing for it,”? Suranga said.

He holds more records in single events.? He has? eleven? records? including a mixed double? record.? These records have been? in the National Senior and National Junior Pistol? competitions and they were made several years ago. I have kept those records? for fourteen years.”

All pistol records are under my name. I have broken old ones and created new? ones several times. I? am very proud about them? as I? made them as? a civilian shooter and this had not been done in a long time. During my shooting career, I became the best and cleverest pistol shooter in Sri Lanka and could bag more than a hundred gold medals in single events,” he added very proudly.

?Suranga Fernando works as an executive at MAS Slimline in Pannala? and receives ample support from the company to continue his sport.

“I am the only shooter to? join the company as a sportsman. Before me, Ruwini Abeymanna worked here. Our ompany had built a shooting range in Pannala for her, After her, shooters Daya and Sagara also worked? at MAS.

Dion Gomes was the pioneer who created more facilities? for sports in the? MAS Group. He recruited me tothe company and now Ruwan Keragala, Dinal Perera, Pemil Athanayaka and several others help me to? get involved further in sports. At the beginning of my career I had a dream about? Olympic participation. I hope? to participate in? the Olympics Games in 2024.? The postponed Olympics Games in Tokyo was my target. But I could not? make it? and won minimum qualifications this time. However, they have adjusted the qualification period again. So, we can try? for the 2020-21 Olympics again. But Covid-19 is a barrier. However, I hope to put my full strength for 2024 Olympics,” Suranga said? very hopefully.

“The sport has? changed. We know this game is also the most expensive in the world. Anyone selecting? this sport has to spend money. In? this situation, as a civilian, I buy bullets with my own money.

As a member of a lower middle-income family it is difficult for me. However, I have been? managing the expenses? of this game for more than twenty years.

?Even after giving up the sport I? will never forget the game and wish to start my coaching career too. I hope to produce? better shooters than me. So I hope to improve my qualifications and follow an advanced shooting course abroad.”

He is very grateful to his father Manjula Fernando? (a former National Shooter), his coach, mother, sister and every one else who help him to become a top shooter.

He is an old boy of Prince of Wales, Moratuwa. He? holds records? at National level including? 10m Air Pistol Junior Men’s? National, 25m Standard Junior Men, 25m Rifle Fire Junior Men, 50m Free Pistol Junior, 10m Air Pistol, 25m Standard Pistol Junior, 10m Air Pistol Mix (with Ruwini Abemanne) records.

He? has won International medals? including the? South Asian Junior game’s Gold medal, Open Bronze, seven Bronzes in Group events? at the South Asian Games, a? Silver medal in a Mixed? event. He also represented the country in Commonwealth Games in 2002, 2014 and 2018.