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Kimiko, first Lankan in action at Rio

Aug 1, 2016
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Five-time South Asian Games gold medallist Kimiko Raheem will be the firstSri Lankan to be seen in action at the XXX1st Olympic Games which begins in Rio de Janeiro on Friday (5).
The 17-year-old star swimmer, who won five gold medals at the 2016 South Asian Games in Guwahati, India earlier this year, is scheduled to compete in her pet event of women’s 100m backstroke at the Rio 2016 Olympics next Sunday (7).
Raheem, who came first in women’s 50m backstroke, 100m backstroke, 200mbackstroke, 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 4 x 100m freestyle at the lastSouth Asian Games, is in good shape after her one-year FINA sports scholarship in Thailand under experienced Spanish coach Miguel Lopez.
The youngest of the Raheem sisters, who have shared eight gold medals,seven silver medals and five bronze medals between them in two South Asian Games, targets to finish her pet event inside the Olympic qualification mark. She missed the Rio 2016 ‘B’ category qualification timing of one minute and 2.36 seconds in 100m backstroke by just 0.27 seconds at the Hong Kong Age Group Championship earlier this month.
“I thought I could achieve that mark in Hong Kong but missed it narrowly.My initial target is to improve on my Sri Lanka record and finish inside the FINA qualification timing for the Rio Games,” she said on the eve of the Sri Lanka team’s departure to Brazil.”It will be a tough contest but I am determined to do well. My ultimate goal would be the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo – to go there as a qualified swimmer by winning FINA entry standards and make it to the finals,” adetermined Raheem said as she completed her final work out before the contingent’s departure to Rio.
August 8 will be a crucial day for Sri Lanka as three of its Olympians willbe seen in action in Rio – Shooter Mangala Samarakoon in men’s rifle 10m air rifle qualification, weightlifter Sudesh Peiris in men’s 62kg first round and judoka Chamara Nuwan Darmawardana in men’s 73kg first round.
Swimmer Matthew Abeysinghe who accounted for a record ten medals, including seven gold medals at the 2016 South Asian Games, will take part in men’s 100m freestyle heat on August 9. The last of the nine Lankan Olympians to be seen in action in Rio 2016 Games will be the overall captain of the local contingent Anuradha Indrajith Cooray.
The 38-year-old veteran long distance runner, competing in his third Olympic Games after Athens 2004 and London 2012, will carry Lanka’s last hope at the Games when he runs in men’s marathon final on August 21, the final day of the 206-nation Games. Cooray, considered as the best marathonrunner produced by Sri Lanka after Asian Games gold medalist S.L.B. Rosaand 1992 Barcelona Olympian the late K.A. Karunaratne, has completed an ideal month-long training stint in Kenya in preparations for Rio Olympics and is confident that he could improve his Sri Lanka record in men’s marathon.

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