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Oarswomen Minoli and Mithila did Sri Lanka proud

Former Sri Lanka and Musaeus College star rowers- sisters Minoli and Mithila Goonawardena were two of the finest oarswomen to hold several records in rowing for the past fifteen years. Both of them have brought honour and glory to the country and the school at Local and International levels, Minoli and Mithila also did excel for the Colombo Rowing Club.

Minoli and Mithila has tasted much success in rowing from the year 1995. The champion sisters' father Ajith Goonawardena, a former top national oarsman, S. Thomas' College rowing coach, national coach and member of the Amateur Rowing Association of Sri Lanka and Colombo Rowing Club is responsible for his two daughters great success. Ajith is happy that Minoli and Mithila have followed in his footsteps.

Lady rowing activities

Historically the lady rowing activities of the Colombo Rowing Club were performed by a few adult ladies of the two universities and an occasional private members of the club. But in 1997 Musaeus College Rowing Club and Ladies College Rowing clubs were formed.

Minoli (on left) and Mithila Goonawardena

The Ladies of two universities, Colombo Rowing Club, Musaeus and Ladies College have shown themselves equal to the task of handling senior sophisticated equipment by using the International Rowing Federation (FISA) standard boats at local and foreign meets.

Minoli and Mithila commenced rowing at the ages of 13 and 12 respectively rowing for the Colombo Rowing Club in 1995. In the first meet both took part in 1995 at the 13th National Championships Regatta finished runner-up in Ladies Open Fours (coaxed fours).

In the year 1996 participated in the Ladies Open Fours with the visiting British Royal Air Force ladies crew at the Beira Lake. Minoli (13) and Mithila (14) years were the Youngest members to compete in a dual meet. They lost to the visitors in the Ladies Open Fours.

Both Minoli and Mithila were responsible for forming the Musaeus College Rowing Club in the year 1997.

At the 14th National Championships Regatta they won the Ladies Open Fours (coaxed fours) and were placed runner-up in Ladies Open Pairs (coaxed pairs).

Minoli and Mithila's first international meet was also in 1997 when they participated in the Bengal Senior Schools Regatta in India and won a Gold Medal in the Women's Senior Fours. Both also won the Cyraine Cup for the Open Ladies Senior Pairs.

Both of them underwent training for Level one Rowing Coaches under the auspices of the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka. Amateur Rowing Association of Sri Lanka (ARASL) and the International Rowing Federation (FISA) and were successful.

In 1998 both proved their class to the tilt setting records in local rowing scene. At the 15th National Championship Regatta they won the Ladies Open Sculls, Ladies Open Fours, Ladies Open Pairs.

Madras-Colombo Regatta

In the same year Minoli (vice captain of Musaeus College) and Mithila (Secretary of Musaeus College Rowing Club) represented the Colombo Rowing Club at the annual Madras-Colombo Regatta in India.

Once again both won the Cyraine Cup-Open Ladies Pair, Ladies Plate for the open Ladies four. Meanwhile Mithila won the Senior Sculls at the Nationals. This was a record winning all three events at the National Championship Regatta.


Musaeus College entered the records books in June 1998 when they became the first girls school to take part in an overseas regatta. Four girls Apsara Fonseka (Captain), Minoli, Mithila, Wyomi Abeywickerema and Evanthi Livera participated in the 26th Inter-School Regatta held in Calcutta and what's more they emerged champions bagging the gold medal in the process.

The performances for the year 1999 were-Minoli captained the Musaeus College Rowing Club and her sister Mithila was the vice-captain of the team. Musaeus College were adjudged the first runner-up at the 16th National Championships Regatta in Ladies Open Pairs and Ladies Open Fours.

Minoli was appointed to the Media Committee for the National Championship Regatta. Minoli Won the Ladies Plate for open Ladies Four, Cyraine Cup open Ladies Pair, Senior Ladies coxless pairs of the Colombo Rowing Club, Novices Sculls event of the Colombo Rowing Club. She also had the distinction winning the Senior 2-events at the ARAE (Amateur Rowing Association of the East) Regatta held in Colombo.

Mithila won the President's Trophy for the second consecutive year in its brief history of three years. Minoli Captained the Musaeus College until the 17th National Championships Regatta in February. Carried away the J.M. Perera Memorial Trophy for the Overall Championships annexing victories in the senior and junior events losing only an event of a possible six and personally involved in winning the Senior Ladies (coxless pairs) and Ladies Open Fours (coaxed fours).

Also won the Cyraine Cup for Open Ladies Pairs (coxless pairs). Awarded the Senior Rowing Colours at the Colombo Rowing Club and Musaeus College. Both in addition to their pet sports-rowing also played tennis and badminton. They also showed keen interest in music and drama.

A fine sport

According to Minoli and Mithila rowing is considered a fine sport not only for its power strokes, but also for the meticulous co-ordination and utmost boat discipline that are essential to send the boat racing smoothly through the water.

So the two sisters Minoli and Mithila who were both dedicated to the sport have now retired from rowing. Both made lot sacrifices and most important was their dedication for rowing a sport dominated by hunky men with broad shoulders and bulging muscles.



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