Yupun Abeykoon the only Sri Lankan athlete to get direct qualification for Tokyo Olympics
There are 1.9 billion people in South Asia. More than 24% of world population. 51% of them are male. And only one achieved olympic qualification in men’s 100M for Olympics. He is Yupun Abeykoon.
Italy based Sri Lankan sprinter Yupun Abeykoon is the only Sri Lankan athlete to get direct qualification for the Tokyo Olympics with his excellent performance in the100m. To be an Olympian is the dream of any athlete. Yupun is very proud of his achievement to reach the Olympic qualification. His dedication during the last 16 years paved the way for his success.
His achievement at the recently concluded Diamond League athletic championship was very vital to reach his position In fact he was the only sprinter to run below 10.20 seconds in the South Asian region. Being the first Sri Lankan athlete to run at the Diamond League Championship is also a great achievement.
Former Sri Lankan sprinter is the last Olympian to get 100m direct qualification to Olympics Chintaka de Soyza got the wild card entry to enter Olympics in 1996 and after that Abeykoon did it in great style after 26 years.
“When the last Olympics was held in Rio in 2016 I had the opportunity to see that at my home and that time my 100m time was 10.58 seconds . However I got the determination to go the next major meet and work hard for that, I can’t forget my coaches at this time . Especially my present coach Claudio Licciardello gave me great support to come to this level and also really appreciate his work as well as Maurizio both always backed me to reach this level”
Last October Abeykoon defeated the German champion Denis Almas to set up new National and South Asian record with 10.16 seconds .Earlier the 100m National record and the South Asian record were held by Himasha Eashan (10.22 secs).
The 26-year old Abeykoon anchored the Sri Lanka 4x100M Relay team to win the gold medal at the South Asian Games in 2019 in Kathmandu, Nepal. During the South Asian Games Abeykoon, Himasha Eshan, Vinod Suranjaya and Chanuka Sandeep were able to erase a 15-year-old record of the 4x100 relay established by the Indian team in 2004 (39.91 secs) with a new record timing of 39.14 seconds.
The dedicated sprinter Abeykoon continued his training in Italy even during the period of the Covid-19 pandemic to achieve his dream of representing Sri Lanka at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Abeykoon hails from Pannala and studied at Pannala National School and St Joseph Vaz Wennappuwa. Presently he is training at Fiammegialle Sports Center in Rome under the guidance of coaches Raparelli and Licciardello. Chamindu Sampath was his school coach until 2015.