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Monday, 13 July 2003
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Unsung
W.G. Karunasena
11.07.93
 

The same part of our heart that warms to the underdog should spare some affection for the unsung hero. The defender who assists the goal scorer. The stock bowler who props up the wicket taker. The nightwatchman who scores nothing and saves the game

I have a favourite unsung hero and it is not PS Mathew. Neither is it MJM Laffir, world billiard champion 1973, who lived in poverty and died in obscurity. It is another forgotten Lankan sportsman. His name is Kumar Anandan.

Before his death in 1984, attempting to swim the English Channel, VSK Anandan held world records for:

• Swimming the Palk Strait in 51 hours (1971)
• Twist Dancing for 128 hours (1978)
• Balancing on one foot for 33 hours (1979)
• Treading Water for 80 hours (1981)
• Walking non-stop for 159 hours (1981)

159 hours non-stop walking amounts to 296 miles covered over 6 days. If Mathew’s story adds years to my life, I will one day tell Anandan’s as well. Sheila brings in my shirts, washed and ironed. She sees the last sentence and strokes my hair. “Careful Gamini,” she says. “One donkey at a time.”.

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