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
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
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).