Forget the wild card entry, Sri Lankan swimming sensation Matthew Abeysinghe quite deservingly qualified for the Rio Olympic games by finishing the Men’s 100m Freestyle event in 50.53s at the Hong Kong Swimming Circuit Championship.
Regardless of meeting the qualifying standards, Abeysinghe will continue to make his mark as the championship stretches in Hong Kong. However, his direct inclusion will certainly turn out to be an excellent advantage for Sri Lanka at Rio, Brazil.
Meanwhile, Kimiko Raheem qualified in the Women’s category on a wild card.
“Matthew (Abeysinghe) has created history in Sri Lanka swimming by becoming the first ever swimmer to qualify for the Olympics. So far in the history, swimmers who have competed at Olympics through wild card entries and Matthew’s achievement is significant I must say,” said Maxwell de Silva (Secretary of National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka (NOC).
Abeysinghe’s timing of 50.53s was 0.17s inside the minimum qualifying standard timing. At the age of 18, Abeysinghe managed to reach a timing of 50.87s, showing tremendous promise in the South Asian Level.
From his childhood, Abeysinghe was able to exhibit his talent at various national platforms, slowly emerging as Sri Lanka’s only hope in swimming. Despite reaching the national record a few years back, Abeysinghe had plenty to prove as a talented Sri Lankan swimmer with tremendous potential.
Matthew Abeysinghe’s early life
Born on the 19th of March 1996, Matthew Abeysinghe, a product of Asian International School Colombo was coached by his father Manoj Abeysinghe since his childhood. His brothers Andrew, Kyle and Dillon all represent Sri Lanka and hold the national record in the Men’s 4x50m relay.
Earlier in his career, Abeysinghe represented Sri Lanka, completing 13th overall in Boys’ 100-metre freestyle and 15th in the Boys’ 200-metre freestyle.
However, the turning point of Abeysinghe’s career was the recently concluded South Asian Games. With 7 gold medals 2 silver and 1 bronze, Matthew Abeysinghe broke the record for the most gold medals in the South Asian Games by a Sri Lankan. The record was previously set by Julian Bolling in year 1991.
“The Games were an endurance test for Mathew. We were expecting Mathew and Kimiko to do well. Money needs to be spent in the correct manner for the right rewards to be reaped. If you do this properly the future can be good because the talent we (Sri Lanka) have is immense,” said Julian Bolling.
He is the current Sri Lankan record holder for 50m freestyle (23.62), 100m freestyle (50.86), 200m freestyle (1:52.41), 400m freestyle (4:03.90), 1500 freestyle (16:23.61), 50 backstroke (26.94), 200 individual medley (2:07.33), 400 individual medley (4:42.22) and 100m butterfly (55.32).
“I always wanted to make it to the Olympics by proving my ability, to achieve Olympic qualifying standards and go to Rio as a qualified athlete and not just as a wildcard entry. I have worked hard for this. I am happy that I could achieve my goal in the final meet before the Olympic qualification deadline,” said Mathew Abeysinghe.
At the age of 20, Matthew Abeysinghe will face a tremendously tough bunch of world class swimmers from United Status and a few other nations that frequently dominate the medal cards. However, his journey has just begun. So even if Abeysinghe fails to attain glory, he still has plenty of Olympic potential in years to come. Nevertheless, It’s important that he does his best to take Sri Lanka to where she really belongs.
“It will be my first Olympics and I am looking forward to make it a memorable one. My immediate goal is to better the personal best by about half a second,” he concluded (daily news).
The fact that Julian Bolling, Condrad Francis and Heshan Unamboowe qualified for the Olympic Games as wild card entries further signifies Abeysinghe’s selection and drastically highlights his potential as well. His qualification further justifies that Sri Lanka does possess talented young lads but only an established system would ideally take them to the grand stage.
The XXXIst Olympics are scheduled to commence on the 5th of August 2016.
/ 2 years ago
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