There’s no doubt you have heard of Usian Bolt, Marian Jones and Yohan Blake. But did you hear a name called Ranasinghe Karunananda? He was one of the forgotten Olympic heroes who represented Sri Lanka (Ceylon) in the 1964 Olympics, in the Mens 10,000 meters event.
Karunananda competed because he wanted his little daughter to be happy that he competed, from start to finish. He came last. He could have stopped at any point, it would not have changed anything. He didn’t. He was with the leaders when Billy Mills of the USA breasted the tape. That’s because he had been lapped four times by that time. When he continued, it surprised the spectators. When he came around they jeered. When he came around a second time, there was silence. And then there was cheering. Wild applause. He finished the race to a standing ovation that exceeded the salutation that the spectators gave Mills.
One housewife wrote, ‘I saw you on TV, running all alone and I could not keep back my tears’.
The Japanese remember this more than the Sri Lankans do. Days after the race he still received gifts from sympathetic Japanese. His story is related to schoolchildren to teach the virtue of determination and the triumph of the human spirit. Look below how he competed with others at Olympics.
At the media discussion Mills have said that the gold should have gone to Karunananda not for him. Karunananda was gifted by many things by Japanese and they all consider him as a real hero with an incredible courage. After few months, some say he died in an accident. Some say he was murdered. Some say he just disappeared. Whatever happened, isn’t Karunanada a real hero among us?