Swimming sensation Matthew Abeysinghe erased a 24-year record held by legendary Julian Bolling yesterday at the 12th South Asian Games held in Guwahati, India.
Abeysinghe collected two more gold medals to take his tally to seven gold medals for the games.
Abeysinghe’s effort also equaled the seven-gold blitz by Dipika Chanmugam in the 1991 games in Colombo.
Prior to Abeysinghe’s effort Bolling had won five gold medals at the 1991 SAF Games. With these swimming events coming to an end yesterday, Sri Lanka collected another seven gold medals in the pool.
In all, Sri Lanka won 12 gold medals, 16 silver and 11 bronze from the swimming events.
Hosts India won 18 of the 38 gold medals on offer for swimming.
Although Kimiko Raheem won two gold medals yesterday, one of the wins was cancelled giving her Indian compatriot the gold medal.
The disqualification was in the women’s 100m medley event. It is interesting to note that all of Sri Lanka’s gold medals in swimming were won by Abeysinghe and Raheem.
The two gold medals for Abeysinghe came in the 200m IM event, where he clocked in at 2:09.23secs with a new SAG record and the 100m freestyle event with a timing 52.01secs. Meanwhile, Raheem won her fifth gold medal in 100m freestyle event with a timing of 58.2sec.
At the end of yesterday’s events Sri Lanka had collected 24 gold medals to continue to occupy the second slot in the medals table.
Incidentally, Abeysinghe’s coach is his father Manoj Abeysinghe, himself an experienced swimming coach, according to whom Matthew’s next aim would be to win gold medals at the Asian Swimming Championships.
Meanwhile, both men’s and women’s 4X100m relay teams won gold yesterday. Sri Lanka also collected another two gold medals in athletics. However javelin thrower Sumedha Ranasinghe who has already qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janerio was a shattered man ending up with a silver medal with a distance of 80.25m. The event was won by Indian Neeraj Chopr who threw a distance of 82.23m.
Although Himasha Eshan, Suranjana de Silva, Mohammed Ashraff and Shehan Ambepitiya managed to pocket the gold, their timing was not sufficient for Olympic qualification. The minimum Olympic qualification timing stands at 38.9secs.
Sri Lankan women stunned India to grab gold in the 4X100m relay with a timing of 45.5secs. The victorious quartet comprised
Lakshika Suganthi, Rumeshika Ratnayake, Chamali Priyadharshani and Shamila Lakshika.
Sri Lankan Ishara Sandaruwan cleared a height of 4.90m to win the men’s pole vault event. This was his first international gold medal.
Indunil Herath with a timing of 1:51.43secs won the mens 400m event.
Reigning 400m womens champion Subashini Rasnayake was pushed to the second position by Indian athlete MR Poovamma. Rasnayake clocked a time of 54.4secs.