Sri Lanka’s Netball Tower Tharjini Sivalingam Retires


Sri Lanka’s Netball Tower Tharjini Sivalingam Retires

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A significant moment took place at the Netball World Cup in South Africa as one of the most iconic figures in the world of netball bids farewell, which marks the end of an era for Sri Lanka. Having enjoyed an extraordinary netball journey that spanned more than ten years, Tharjini Sivalingam, the legendary goal shooter from Sri Lanka, affectionately nicknamed ‘Gene,’ says goodbye to her illustrious career on the occasion of the Netball World Cup in Cape Town, South Africa.

At the age of 44, Sivalingam, celebrated as one of the finest netball shooters in history, has affirmed that this World Cup will be her last appearance representing her country on the international stage.

“For many years I have contributed to the success of netball in Sri Lanka. Now I am 45 years old. No female player in Asia has been involved in netball as long as I have. I have decided to retire from Sri Lanka netball after the 2023 World Championship Netball,” Sivalingam said.

“Since this is my last World Cup and last international tour representing Sri Lanka, I cannot say a lot. Thanks for all the love, to each and every one,” she said emotionally.

“I couldn’t really enjoy competitive sports in my childhood due to the war in Sri Lanka. I started my netball career at my university and from there, I was identified based on my height and flexibility,” she recalled. In 2004, she was spotted by Sri Lanka coach Thilaka Jinadasa during a university tournament.


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“Since I have seen many struggles from childhood, I can strive hard for anything – with that motivation, I always think positively and keep playing as long as possible,” she shared.

Upon completing her education, Sivalingam became a part of Seylan Bank, facilitating her involvement in National Pool training sessions held in Colombo.

Sivalingam’s sports career commenced later than usual due to the north-east civil war, which concluded in 2009. Following her studies in Economics at Eastern University in Batticaloa, she discovered her passion for netball and her place in the national team.

Even though Sri Lanka didn’t progress beyond the first round in the 2011 World Championship, Sivalingam’s amazing performance led her to score 290 goals throughout the tournament. Her standout performance earned her the title of the best shooter in 2011.

In 2017, Sivalingam achieved a historic milestone by becoming the first Sri Lankan netball player to compete professionally. She represented the City West Falcons netball club in Australia. Her significant impact played a crucial role in Sri Lanka’s victory in the fifth Asian Netball Championships in 2018, and she was honored as the Player of the Tournament.

Sivalingam has taken part in numerous international tournaments, encompassing five Asian Netball Championships (in 2009, 2012, 2014, 2018, and 2022) and four Netball World Cups (in 2011, 2015, 2019, and 2023). She also had the distinction of captaining the Sri Lanka team during the Asian Netball Championship.

Sivalingam also made her 100th appearance for the national team during the 2019 World Cup. She amazed the audience in the tournament, scoring 348 goals out of 375 attempts in seven matches, solidifying her position as the best shooter. In 2019, she also became the oldest player in Netball World Cup history to play at the age of 40.

Similar to Brian Lara’s importance in West Indies cricket, Sivalingam has had a significant impact on Sri Lanka’s netball team. While she displayed remarkable individual skill, the team encountered difficulties and struggled to maintain consistent success.

Nevertheless, the journey towards triumph continues for the beloved sportswoman of the nation.


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