Tuesday, 31 July 2012

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Olympic exposure will help me bring glory to Lanka says Heshan

Sri Lanka swimmer Heshan Unamboowe said his Olympic experience in London will help him to bring international glory in future. “It was a tremendous experience that would definitely help me in the long run as a swimmer,”Unamboowe said in an exclusive interview with the Daily News today.


Heshan Unamboowe

“I have competed in many international meets, including the FINA WorldChampionships but I have never been nervous like this before. It was a very good experience for us to ascertain where we stand,” he said.Unamboowe, who made it to the London 2012 on a universal selection system,formally known as the wild card system, said the experience he gains by competing at Olympics would definitely help him to face pressure situations. “At least we know where we stand. The asking was high and the expectations are even greater. Nevertheless, it was a great experience that would help me in the big league,” he added.

The Lankan backstroke specialist said he could not give out his brilliant best. “We all dreamt of making it to the Olympics, the dream of any athlete. But once I made it, I could not make the best use of it due to two reasons. One was an old shoulder injury that aggravated. I had this in my right shoulder before and underwent physiotherapy. All of a sudden, this began troubling me on the morning of the event,” he said, adding that the expectations were high at a meet of this magnitude.

“All I wanted initially was to better the Sri Lanka record. But that did not come my way as I could not keep the pace in the second half. I swam the first 50m well but could not accelerate in the last 50m,” he added.

Unamboowe, who made a first round exit after finishing second in his heat and had an overall position of 39 among 40 swimmers who competed in the women's 100m backstroke first round heats, said he will fully concentrate on making an Olympic comeback in four years time.

“Next time, I don't intend to make it through a wildcard.

I will really work for it and would use all my experience to qualify for the next Olympics and give out my best performance. In fact, I would aim at earning a place at the next Olympics, not just to make it through a wildcard,” an ambitious Unamboowe said.

Unamboowe said his training stint in Australia too would be a big boost for him in the long run. “After the Olympics, I will get back home and have alittle break. Then I would fly to the US to begin my higher studies at University of Miami. At the same time, I will continue my swimming career and make use of that opportunity to have a better exposure and compete at a greater number of international meets. That is a huge challenge but I will really work hard towards that goal,” he said.

“Before dreaming of Olympic medals, we must aim at winning more medals at South Asian and Asian level.

Once we reach there only that we could target medals at international or world level. I will make every effort to do better, improve on my national record and to make it a habit of winning and improving my timings,” he said.

Records tumble at Aquatic Centre

Meanwhile, France overhauled the United States in the closing stages to claim the 4 x 100m freestyle relay title in thrilling fashion at theAquatic Centre on Sunday night.

The USA had led from the start and appeared to be on course for gold but Yannick Agnel moved ahead of Ryan Lochte inthe final 10m to claim the title in 3:09.83. It meant Michael Phelps won his first medal of the London 2012 Games and his 17th overall, but it was France who were celebrating as they exorcised the memory of Beijing 2008, when they lost out on the touch to the USA.France had an outstanding day in swimming as Camille Muffat set a newOlympic Games record to secure gold in the women's 400m freestyle.

American swimmer Allison Schmitt finished second, with Rebecca Adlington claiming bronze - Great Britain's first London 2012 medal in the pool.

Muffat touched in four minutes and 1.54 seconds while Adlington came from sixth at halfway to record a time of 4:03.01. Schmitt clocked 4:01.77.

However, USA medal hopes were not entirely shattered as Dana Vollmer won the 100m butterfly title in a new world record of 55.98 seconds.Vollmer had been the favourite coming into the final having set an Olympic record on the previous day, a year after being crowned world champion in Shanghai.Vollmer took 0.08 off Sarah Sjostrom's 2009 world record as she added the Olympic title to the gold she won in Athens in 2004 as a 16-year-old member of the triumphant 4 x 200m freestyle squad. Lu Ying of China was second in 56.87, with Australia's Alicia Coutts third 0.07 adrift.

Meanwhile, South African Cameron van der Burgh has won gold in the men's 100m Breaststroke in a world record time of 58.46. The 24-year-old had qualified fastest for the final last night with the best time in the world in 2012 and an Olympic record. He led from start to finish to take 0.12 offBrenton Rickard's 2009 record. Christian Sprenger was second and Brendan Hansen third.

LONDON, Monday.


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