Sureka Gammeddage used to train without shoes.
Her floorball team trained with broomsticks to prepare for the recent World Winter Games in Austria, due to lack of equipment. The 18-year-old athlete from Special Olympics Serendib, who also takes part in badminton, bocce, and track, travels more than five hours every week by bus from her hometown to Colombo for training.
Despite the odds, it’s a commitment she feels is worthwhile. Born the middle child to a family of farmers earning less than US$120 a month, Sureka’s family cannot afford to continue her education, and attending training helps her stay connected and engaged with the community. Her coach Dulani K Vitharana says Sureka has become more confident and jovial since joining Special Olympics three years ago. Dulani says: “Sports has given her the means and reason to push herself, achieve, excel and represent her country. Best of all, it has won her friendships.”