By Shehan Daniel reporting from Tokyo, Japan
Sri Lankan swimmer Matthew Abeysinghe said a tactical error could have been the reason for his underwhelming return in the heats of the Men’s 100m Freestyle event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics yesterday.
Matthew, swimming out of lane one in the fourth heat, clocked a time of 50.62secs to finish last in the event.
"Obviously not thrilled with the result. It was not what I was expecting. I think I made a tactical error with the way I swam the race given the training I was able to do leading up to the games,” he told the Daily Mirror.
Matthew’s father and coach, Manoj Abeysinghe, concurred with his son’s assessment of his race.
“It was not the outcome we wanted, but the outcome that was most likely based on the amount of work he was able to do,” Manoj said.
Matthew led the race till the half-way point, clocking 23.47 secs at the 50m stage, but was caught out during the last 50m, passed by the seven other swimmers in his heat.
“This is the way with sports, it's a roller coaster with plenty of ups and downs. I have had plenty of ups in my career and plenty of downs as well. This will only make me stronger,” Matthew also added.
Matthew finished 48th out of 70 swimmers who took part in the heats, with Thomas Ceccon of Italy clocking 47.71 to finish fastest in the field, ahead of Caeleb Dressel of the United States who touched the wall 0.02 seconds slower.
Kyle Chalmers was third overall with a time of 47.77secs.
Matthew was also below his personal best timing, the 49.11 secs he set at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018.
With six of the nine athletes already out of the Olympic contention, there are no Sri Lankans slated to compete today, with the Nimali Liyanarachchi set to take part in the Women’s 800m on Friday, and sprinter Yupun Abeykoon to run in the Men’s 100m heats on Saturday.