Yupun aware of the tougher road ahead | Sunday Observer

Yupun aware of the tougher road ahead

9 July, 2022
Yupun Abeykoon during a race against Jacobs
Yupun Abeykoon during a race against Jacobs

Marcel Jacobs from Italy became the gold medal winner in the 100m dash at the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020, but had his personal best of 9.95 seconds leading up to Tokyo. It is interesting to note that he had just two sub 10 second races in his entire career before winning the Olympic Gold with a time of 9.80 seconds.

Sri Lanka’s Yupun Abeykoon who is also based in Italy has run alongside Jacobs in previous meetings only to emerge behind Jacobs at those events. Anyway, Abeykoon has become the latest runner to become a sub 10-second member from Sri Lanka. He clocked 9.96 seconds in Switzerland but would he be eying to repeat what Marcel did last year?

Yupun said it’s very hard to make predictions at this level.

“Chances of making mistakes are high at this level and even the slightest mistake will have adverse consequences; hence, it’s very hard to predict a time, especially when you become a sub 10-second runner,” said Yupun.

Very rarely someone could say that they have achieved their lifelong dream and Yupun did just that at the Resisprint International athletic meet in La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland, which is famous for its fast track as it is located at an altitude of 992 metres.

Now Abeykoon, 28, holds both the 100m and 200m South Asian records and is the first South Asian and 167th athlete in history to run the 100m under 10 seconds. Sri Lanka became the 32nd country in the world to have a sub 10 second runner in the history of the 100m. He is also the first South Asian 100m runner to achieve qualification for the Olympic Games, which he did last year competing at the Tokyo Olympic Games, while he is the only South Asian 100m runner to qualify for the World Athletics Championship, a feat he achieved this year. He is now ranked 37 out of 56 athletes who are qualified by World Ranking for the championship which is set to be held from July 14 in Eugene, USA.

“I had a few targets for this year. Running sub 10 seconds was the prime one. Then winning medals at the Asian Games, running in the finals in the Commonwealth Games and semi-finals in the World Championships,” said Yupun.

With the cancellation of Asian Games due to the Covid 19 situation in China, Yupun had to divert his plans and focus on other championships this year, including the Diamond League, where he has competed in two races so far.

“I tried a lot on several occasions to achieve this feat, but somehow missed it due to bad weather, windy conditions. I knew that a sub ten second run was coming and just needed conditions to come good during the race, which happened in Switzerland,” said Abeykoon.

Meanwhile, Yupun said he will compete at the Asian Games or World Championship only if his coach and physiotherapist are included in the team. The World Athletic Championship is less than ten days away in the USA while the Commonwealth Games is set to start on July 28 in Birmingham, UK.

It’s evident that if Yupun stayed back in the country, he wouldn’t have achieved what he has achieved today.

“There are enough talented athletes in Sri Lanka, but they lack facilities and plans which I experience now. If they get that, they will be world beaters,” said Yupun.