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Most versatile SAG swimmer eyes Rio Olympics

The most versatile South Asian Games athlete, Sri Lankan swimmer Matthew Abeysinghe targets Rio Olympic qualification at the Hong Kong Age Group Championship to be held from July 2 and 3.


Matthew Abeysinghe is seen here after he won the 200 metre freestyle gold medal at the 12th South Asian Games 2016, in Dispur, Guwahati on February 06, 2016.

Abeysinghe, who created history at South Asian Games winning seven gold medals, the most number of gold medals won by a single athlete in any sport at a South Asian Games, hopes to cross the Olympic qualifying standard of 50:70 and 1:51.75 in 100m and 200m freestyles respectively.

Competing 17 races in 11 events with high intensity at the last SAG in India, Abeysinghe won a total number of 10 medals for the country with five SAG records, clocking 51:23 in 100m freestyle and 1:52.28 in 200m freestyle after anchoring to win the 4x100m freestyle relay gold for the country after 25 years.

"If Matthew wanted to be selfish he would have had this Olympic qualifications under his belt at South Asian Games. All he had to do was to concentrate on two or three events," Matthew's coach Manoj Abeysinghe said.

He (Matthew) and I decided that for the sake of the sport and the country that we needed to maximize the number of medals that Sri Lanka wins at the SAG," coach Abeysinghe said.

Matthew Abeysinghe, currently Sri Lanka's most experienced and consistent swimmer, is the only athlete to win an Asian level swimming medal for Sri Lanka when he won a bronze in 100m freestyle at the Asian Youth Games in Nanjing, China in 2013.

He was the first Lankan swimmer to achieve FINA World Championship qualification in the 100 m freestyle for last year's Kazan World Championships at the trial conducted by Sri Lanka Aquatic Sports Union (SLASU) at the Sugathadasa Stadium pool competing with top swimmers in the world.

Matthew is the record holder for the most number of national records (15) in both short and long course for the island , setting a new benchmark in Lankan swimming.

Abeysinghe holds the highest number of FINA points by a male Sri Lankan swimmer with 784 FINA points for 100m freestyle (50:86) and 749 FINA points for 200m freestyle (1:52.28).

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