Matthew Duncan Abeysinghe, born 19 March 1996 is a competitive swimmer who has represented Sri Lanka at numerous international competitions. Abeysinghe trained under his coach and father, Manoj Abeysinghe, with Killer Whale Aquatics, until his departure for higher education, where he resumed his training at Ohio State University in the US. Abeysinghe is regarded as the greatest swimmer and one of the most accomplished athletes Sri Lanka has ever produced.
Abeysinghe started swimming when he was three years old alongside his older brother, Andrew. He has been quoted, saying he started swimming merely for water safety, not to compete. Over the course of his career, Abeysinghe has achieved numerous accolades, including; international medals, national records, national championships, and several national awards. Abeysinghe is considered the greatest athlete in South Asian Games history. He is also the most decorated; winning a total of 14 gold medals, two silver medals, and one bronze medal. In Freestyle, his most proficient stroke, Abeysinghe holds all of the national records except for the 200m Freestyle, which belongs to his younger brother, Kyle. He also holds the South Asian record in the 100m and 200m Freestyle events.
Abeysinghe’s first time representing Sri Lanka was at 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India. There he broke the national record in the 400m Freestyle, previously held by Julian Bolling and became the youngest male swimmer to be selected to the national team. Later on that year, he competed at the 2010 FINA World Swimming Championships in Dubai. In 2011, Abeysinghe represented Sri Lanka three times; at the 2011 World Aquatics Championships, the 2011 Youth Commonwealth Games, in the Isle of Man, making it to the finals of the 400m Freestyle, and Asian Age Group Swimming Championships, where he won the silver medal in 100m Freestyle. In 2012 Abeysinghe competed at the 2012 FINA World Swimming Championships in Istanbul, Turkey. The next year, Abeysinghe competed at the 2013 Asian Youth Games, where he won the bronze medal in the 100m Freestyle, becoming the first Sri Lankan to win a medal at an Asian Games event.
In 2014, at the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics, Abeysinghe competed in the 100m Freestyle. After setting a national record in prelims, he advanced to the semi-final, where he raced amongst the likes of future Olympians; Duncan Scott and Kyle Chalmers.
Later on, he represented Sri Lanka at the 2014 FINA World Swimming Championships in Doha, Qatar. He also competed in the 2014 Asian Indoor Athletics Championships in Seoul, Korea. In 2015, Abeysinghe competed at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia. Early on in 2016, Abeysinghe was struggling to reach the Olympic qualifying time in the 100m freestyle. Finally, in Hong Kong, Abeysinghe was able to achieve the “B” qualifying time, becoming the first and only Sri Lankan swimmer, and one of few athletes, to achieve this feat up to that point (his younger brother, Kyle, managed to surpass this mark later on). Abeysinghe competed at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, alongside fellow swimming star, Kimiko Raheem. He competed in the 100m Freestyle, with a time of 50.96, slower than he had previously swum in Hong Kong. He placed third in his heat.
In early 2017, Abeysinghe moved to the US to attend Ohio State University. There he resumed training, after a prolonged leg injury in late 2016. At the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, Abeysinghe was a part of the 4×100 Freestyle relay for Sri Lanka. Alongside him was his younger brother Kyle, Akalanka Pieris and Cherantha De Silva. Together, they became the first Sri Lankan team to make finals at the Commonwealth Games. At the Games, he also competed in the 50m and 100m Freestyle, qualifying for the semi-final in the latter. There he competed against the likes of Cameron McEvoy, Chad Le Clos, and Benjamin Proud. He also became the first Sri Lankan to break the “50-second” barrier.
Matthew continued his glory at the South Asian platform winning 7 gold and silver in the 2019 South Asian Games held in Kathmandu Nepal.