Qi Gong athletes, Mahesh Vitharana Pathirana (left) and Eranga Weerasinghe (right) who excelled at the recent 2nd World Health Qi Gong Championships held in Bozhou, China

Mahesh Vitharana Pathirana and Eranga Weerasinghe returned home recently with a collection of three Gold and a Silver at the 2nd World Health Qi Gong Championships held in Bozhou, China. Only a couple of close associates back home were aware of this achievement. But what’s sad about this whole episode is that Sri Lanka as a nation being unaware of the amazing health benefits this gentle form of exercise offers.

The athletes from other countries had initially been very sympathetic towards the two Sri Lankans when seeing them at the event which was hosted by the city where the great physician and healer Dr. Hua Tua (110-207 AD) lived. The dark skinned Sri Lankans were not taken seriously at all. But when the performances began at the residence of Dr. Tua, now turned into a museum, the athletes and officials at the event couldn’t believe their eyes. The Sri Lankans, especially Mahesh, had shown both grace and style in their movements. Mahesh contested in the Wu Qin Xi style event which has drawn movements from five animals. These movements regulate the internal organs and promise longevity.
According to Mahesh, there is a population of one million in Bozhou and its residents are known to practice Qi Gong daily. The people in this city boast of having the longest lifespan among the Chinese. The average age in this city is said to be 90 years.

“It was a great honor for me to win the two gold medals at the event held at this great Qi Gong master’s residence. With these performances Sri Lanka has shown that the few athletes practicing Qi Gong in Sri Lanka have made progress,” said Mahesh who improved on his last year’s performances at the same event where he bagged a silver and bronze medal.

The powers of Qi Gong really came under the spotlight at the 2008 Olympics when the Chinese swimmers bagged several gold medals. On inquiries it was revealed at the Chinese authorities had started these swimmers on a Qi Gong program. These soft flowing moves when done to perfection guarantees the refreshing of internal organs and cultivating of energies within. Mahesh, who is also a Wushu (A martial art) player, said that age stifled his quick movements. However, after starting Qi Gong four years ago, there has been remarkable improvements in speed and power in his Wushu moves.

The 42-year-old Mahesh says he obtains loads of energy after doing a Qi Gong workout. “In my office I am able to handle stressful situations without affecting my health. I hardly get angry and my mind is always at peace,” said Mahesh who added, “I haven’t been to a doctor for a very long time”.

However, he warned that there are no instant results from practice this soft form of exercises. He said that proper technique, concentration, coordination of body and breath and above all regular practice are what makes up the formula that brings results from Qi Gong.

His other teammate Weerasinghe won a Gold in Liu Zi Jue and a Silver in Wu Qin Xi at the championship which attracted the participation of 119 athletes from 19 countries. Reflecting on the achievement Mahesh said that he has big plans to promote this health art in Sri Lanka. “The World Health Qi Gong Federation has already promised to sponsor a group of selected athletes for a three-month residential training course in China and to send the necessary technical support promote this art here, also for free,” said Mahesh who is also qualified as a referee in Qi Gong.

Mahesh said that practicing Qi Gong is not a costly exercise. “There are just two criteria. You should be fit enough to be able to walk. The other requirement is a pair shoes and loosely fit garment and you are ready to star,” he said. According to Mahesh if you have the will he is willing to take you through some amazing animal movements which promise health, happiness and prosperity in life.