Sri Lanka’s swimmers proved to be a sensation at the ongoing South Asian Games (SAG) in India and according to one of the team’s coaches Julian Bolling the Sri Lankans swam faster because they encountered competition, unlike back at home.
Bolling, one of four coaches who accompanied the swimmers, praised all the swimmers and refused to single out any member as the find of the tour. In an email interview Nation did with Bolling, he stressed that the authorities should have a well planned international calendar for the Sri Lankan swimmers if standards needed to be upgraded.
He had encouraging words for Mathew Abeysinghe and mentioned that he (Mathew) had become a superstar in the middle of the meet. Abeysinghe won seven gold medals and went on to erase the Sri Lankan record (five gold medals), established by Bolling himself at the 1991 SAF Games. The Sri Lanka swimmers won 12 gold, 16 silver and 11 bronze medals at the SAG.
“The Games were an endurance test for Mathew,” said Bolling who added, “We were expecting Mathew and Kimico to do well”.
Bolling said that Mathew was very well coached. The Sri Lankan coach said that he noticed improvement in the two relay teams.
He said that SAF secretaries had met during the SAG and seen the need to have the South Asian Championships squeezed between the Asian Age Group Championships which he opined would help the level B and C swimmers raise their standards.
He said he was a little disappointed at the insufficient time (three months) given for preparations, and added, “Nothing is complicated. We need a plan”. He said the swimmers were given some equipment three months prior to the SAG. He queried why this couldn’t be organized much earlier. “We need to make use of all this when the swimmers are on a high because soon everybody is going to forget about the SA Games,” he said. He also saw the need to have a separate program for the top 20 swimmers.
Bolling opined that the swimmers needed incentives and money needs to come into swimming. “Money needs to be spent in the correct manner for the right rewards to be reaped. If you do this properly the future can be good because the talent we (Sri Lanka) have is immense” he said.