The Sri Lankan swimmers overpowered their nemesis India in the fourth decisive day during the relay events of the South Asian Aquatic Championship (SAAC) at the Sugathadasa Indoor Swimming Pool Complex.
Sri Lanka had the privilege of securing four gold medals over the course of the day while the Indian team added in another 24 gold on the fourth day. Three out of the four gold that the hosts won came in the last set of relay events where they defeated the Indian powerhouses.
The first session saw Sri Lanka’s Olympian Matthew Abeysinghe showcasing his calibre winning the boys 18 & over 100m Freestyle with a timing of 51.26 seconds. This was the same event that Matthew swam at the Olympics in Rio few two months back. In second place was Sahil Chopra who clocked in at 52.32 seconds to take the silver medal.
The younger sibling and the up and coming swimmer Kyle Abeysinghe had to settle for a silver in his under 18 Butterfly losing out to Mihir Rajendra Ambre who won the event with a timing of 56.22. Kyle finished with a timing of 57.52 seconds. U. A. Gunarathna of Sri Lanka got the third place finishing with a time of 58.48.
It was a victory for the Sri Lankan swimmers as they went on to win three out of the six freestyle relays while winning the crucial under 18 and above 18 events. Sri Lanka’s top four in the senior segment, Cherantha De Silva, Matthew Abeysinghe, K. P. S. B. Silva and Dillon Abeysinghe overpowered the Indians as they finished 1st in the 4X100 Freestyle relay with a timing of 3:30.87. Sri Lanka had the lead from the start of the race but it was Dillon Abeysinghe who gave the lead for the Lankans and his elder sibling Matthew did the final finishing touch to the race.
The Sri Lanka boys’ under 18 relay team with the likes of Dilanka Shehan, Akalanka Peiris, Kyle Abeysinghe and Kavindra Nugawela had somewhat of an easy win in the relay finishing six seconds ahead of their counterparts. Sri Lanka completed their race with a time of 3:33.97 while India in the second place hit the decks in 3:39.98 minutes.
However, the day’s highlight was the girls’ under 18 4X100 Freestyle relay where Sri Lanka fought back in the final 50 meters to win gold. Swimming for the under18 girls team were Naveesha Karunanayake, Vinoli Kaluarachchi, Shehanthi Gunawardena and Kimiko Raheem. With a lap to go, the Indian team had themselves a comfortable lead of over 10 meters but determined Kimiko crafted Sri Lanka’s comeback in the final 25 meters to finish on the top podium.
Sri Lanka finished the race in 4:04.45 minutes and in second place, India completed their run in 4:06.17 minutes.
India dominates the medal table
The subcontinent giant India was left uncontested in the medal table as they climbed to a total of 90 gold medals, 60 silver and 14 bronze to make it a record total of 164. Hosts Sri Lanka have themselves 19 gold, 46 silver and 73 bronze. Bangladesh have themselves 2 gold while Pakistan has their solitary gold from day 2.