Posted: August 16, 2010 in Uncategorized

We know Susanthika, Damayanthi Dharsha, Marion Jones, Michael Jordan but have we heard about R Karunanada. He represented Sri lanka (then Ceylon) in the 1964 Olympics, in the mens 10,000m event.

Karunananda did his best to win a medal to his country, one could see the effort he took to his boot from the beginning and right throughout the race despite the spectators shouts. Finally, he won his battle making the spectators to a standing ovation that exceeded the salutation that the spectators gave to any athlete, and completed the race.

The Sri Lankan media has forgotten about this great athlete who fought his best to win a medal for his country, a true heroes like Karunananda should be honoured for his efforts made at this race. most of your’l might had not seen the race i am talking about, watch it at the end of this post.

Here is an article i pulled out, that would give one more information about Karunananda; (i don’t know the source of this article 😦  maybe daily mirror)

Those who unwittingly inhabit others’ versions of their realities might find Karunananda in a different way, I realized. If they scanned world cinema, the greatest or the most entertaining flicks, they might come across Ron Ichikawa’s ‘Tokyo Olympiad’ (Tokyo Orimpikku). They would no doubt be amazed to learn that a man who came last in the 10,000m race was also featured among the winners, including the incredible Ethiopian, Abebe Bikila who was the first Black African to win an Olympic gold medal and the first to win the marathon twice in a row. Karunananda didn’t compete in the marathon. He was placed 47th out of 52 in the 5000m race and started the 10,000 with a bad cold and a considerably weakened body. This was in 1964, when athletes didn’t chicken out if they were less than 100 percent fit, a time when athletes were not pampered with sponsorships, employment, vehicles, houses and other gifts.

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. Mills is reported to have said that the gold should have gone to Karunananda. Days after the race he still received gifts from sympathetic Japanese. One housewife wrote, ‘I saw you on TV, running all alone and I could not keep back my tears’. He was the original ‘Marathon Karu’ (the subsequent Marathon Karu, better known, died with Jeyaraj Fernandopulle in a suicide attack). The Japanese remember. His story is related to schoolchildren to teach the virtue of determination and the triumph of the human spirit.

Karu was offered a job in Japan. A few days before he was to leave Sri Lanka, he died. Some say he died in an accident. Some say he was murdered. Some say he just disappeared. Years later a Japanese television crew arrived in Sri Lanka to do a documentary on this incredible man. No one knew him. They had been taken to the then ‘Marathon Karu’ by mistake and he had helped the Japanese find the man’s family. Karu’s wife had lost her mind when her husband ‘died’. The family was literally on the street until a kind relative had offered to take care of the children. This is how his own country has recognised him………….! ‘We don’t have to look beyond our shores, ‘We are a nation blessed with our own heroes.’ There’s one in every body in fact. if we want to remember men and women who stood taller than the multitude, then let’s spare a thought for Ranatunga Karunananda.

Bloggers comments >> No wonder we live in Sri Lanka, we usually forget the people who were part and parcel of  our lives  and our country. So, the great Ranatunga Karunananda, i salute you on behalf of all the Sri Lankans as Sri Lankans will remain as Sri Lankans for many years to come.

Lesson learnt — People will drag you down, once your no longer an assert to them.  Selfish indeed !

nb: Daily Mirror and The Sunday Island has some articles on Ranatunga Karunananda

  1. menalie says:

    Thanks for posting such a wonderful post, i was actually crying when i saw him running alone. hehe

  2. kalaniS says:

    Good Job. Truly inspiring. 🙂

  3. Iresha dilhani says:

    this is a really really inspiring story.when i learned about this incident from my teacher,i was crying thinking that why is these great stories hidden and not known.while it is being taught to japanese children,most of the sri lankan chidren have not any single idea abot this hero and not even heard abot him.

    • Jamie says:

      Some Sri lankans tend to forget the ppl who were part and parcel of their life when they no longer need them.
      one could call them ‘Opportunist’. anyway thanks for the comment !

  4. Sajitha says:

    No doubt he is the best sportsman our country ever produced.We should make a statue of R Karunananda for every Sri Lankan to see what is the true Sri Lankan spirit.Yesterday I saw a Sri Lankan weightlifter named Sudesh Peiris failed to lift 145 in his first and second attempts(fallen down on the Floor) in commonwealth games.He had no choice other than lift 152 in his last attempt.He almost fallen but he managed to get up and win the bronze medal.Sometimes Sri Lankans go down but not without a fight.

  5. Shane says:

    I heard about Ranathunga Karunananda was when I took part in a motivational camp. Incidently, Karu is an icon in Japanese school books. I was so moved by the fact that Karu met with an untimely demise.
    Upon returning from the camp, I decided on doing some checking. I rang-up the National Olympic Committee (NOC) office, they have “Never Heard of this Person”!! (Can you imagine that!!) & Amateur Athletic Association of Sri Lanka said they have no records of this Karu, but referred me to read a book titled “Olympic Giya Ape Happannu”, which I’m yet to find. I guess I don’t need the book now, the above video clip is suffice to prove to the world of Karu’s heroic deed.
    I sincerely hope that someone could reopen Karu’s case & punish who ever was responsible for his fate & give some stately maintenance.
    May his soul rest in peace!!


  6. M.J.ASHIKahamed says:

    Unfortunately SriLankans don’t know about Ranathunga Karunananda.

  7. Desh says:

    I heard about R. Karunananda from “Doramadalawa” on ITN. very next day I searched more information about him in the internet.But I could’nt find. Thank you very much for posting…..

  8. Malinda Seneviratne says:

    The following link gives the full story: http://www.dailynews.lk/2010/05/05/fea02.asp

    and here’s what happened to his children: http://www.dailynews.lk/2011/02/07/fea02.asp

  9. Shane says:

    DAMN, it took more than 4 decades for Sri Lankans’ to recognize and appreciate his work 😦

  10. Rukman Weerasinghe says:


    i heard about hero, Karu last month for the first time in a training programme. The whole story inspired not only me, but the all our team. I request from our all sharing community who are loving to Karu, pls. bring this inspiring story to others as much as possible. That’s how we can make Karu manorial forever.

  11. dayan says:

    thanks man great upload and we now know that i dont think every one knows but a great man like karu leaves us legacy behind that sri lankans never give up

  12. ratnayake says:

    Really inspiring story .i hear this story before but today only i saw the video . thanks a lot for the great post . most of time this takes as a example at lectures relate to motivation . but i am sure most of them are not aware with this .. thanks a lot again

  13. Ashik says:

    really touching story……. i proud to be SriLankan

  14. pulith says:

    No words to say!!A great person!

  15. Sanjeewa fernando says:

    Great article.you may also be honoured,as exposing us to such kind of attempts of our great heroes

  16. R.D.Perera says:

    Why our own fuckers do not talk about a great hero like this? Why fucking government can’t input this story for our children’s books too, as Japanese do.. This is where we go wrong as sri lankans. Our people are simply jealous to appriciate real heros.. I love sri lanka , but I hate bloody people who are not greatful for our own heros..probably one fucker must had killed him. otherwise how could he die like that..

  17. Anusha says:

    Very good article..Thank you very much for letting us all know about this great man..

  18. K. M. O. C. Perera says:

    I know that story of karunanada. I am forty two year old teacher. My father used to say about him when i was asmall kid. Not only tHat galant effortat tokyo. Hehad accomplish another heroic display of spirit of sport at one of the asian games. I cant remember when was that. There he (karunanada) stopped his race to pic a fallen athlete and finish the race with him. If anybody knows about it please publishe to honour this great son of srilanka

    • Madusanka says:

      Thank you soo much for uploading this. I ashamed that even I didn’t knew him. one great Sri Lnkan.. Thank you again.

  19. Eranga says:

    Thumbs Up for the Hero…..

  20. A typical Sri Lankan says:

    Its embarrassing that I am 34 years old by the time that I heard about Karunananda for the first time . But I’ll make sure that my child get to know the story sooner than that.

  21. oshanda kumarasingh says:

    I think Ranathunga Karunananda is a hero in sri lanka for nother 12 or more years.

  22. oshanda kumarasingh says:

    I think Ranathunga Karunananda is a hero in sri lanka forever.

  23. I have heard about Karunananda’s feat. I am proud of him. He was a true sportsman. I salute him and wish if all sportsman all of the world could be that honest and sportsman like Karunananda.

  24. kack says:

    shit the video is removed.. anybody got that video or a link ?

  25. Anuket says:

    This is a great article. I am form India and I read about him in one of our text books when I was a kid. I was watching some old Olympic videos and remembered the name and Googled it. Truly, on of the most inspiring people. I am by no means a fit fellow, but I recently took part in a half marathon and there were several moments where I felt like giving up during the run, but I always think of this guy and it kinda helped me keep going all the way to the finish line.

  26. sampath says:

    I salute Karunananda my forever hero!

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