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I qualified for the Olympics by running to work each day
8:00am Friday 27th July 2012 in Sport
ANURADHA Cooray has qualified for the London Olympics by running the 17 miles from High Wycombe to Aylesbury to get to his job at Greggs the bakers for the last two years.
The 34-year-old will represent Sri Lanka in the Olympic Marathon on August 12 after one of the most bizarre training schedules anywhere in this year’s Games.
He works full time for the bakery and said: “I run 110 miles each week getting to work, it’s the only way I can train.
“It takes me around one hours, 31 minutes to get there – but I don’t run back as well, that would be too much.”
He has become a well known sight to motorists on their morning commute.
He said: “People know me now and are beeping their horn at me when they see me. It’s nice that they appreciate what I am doing.”
But Cooray’s amazing story doesn’t stop there.
This will be his second Olympics.
He ran the marathon in Athens in 2004, finishing 30th, and then gave up running altogether after becoming disillusioned.
A year later he moved from Sri Lanka to England seeking work and is now settled in Bucks.
He said: “For three years I didn’t do any running or any exercise. I put on 10 kilos and completely gave up running. I didn’t even think about it or miss it.”
But it was during another ‘lazy’ evening in front of the telly that he caught the bug again.
He said: “It was in 2008 when I was watching the Olympic Games on telly, I felt sad and thought I should be there.”
From that moment he decided to get back in training and aim for London.
He said: “I always believed that I could do it and now I am really excited about the Games in London. This is my home Games now, it could be my last Games and I can’t wait for it.”
But while many of his rivals are full time athletes with experts and nutritionists by their side, Cooray the winner of this year’s Wycombe Half Marathon, has not done it the conventional way.
He said: “When I am at work I have the baguettes and my lunch from Greggs. I eat anything really.
“I feel in good shape, I feel in good form and I want to get into the first 15.”