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Kimiko hopes to reach new heights at Rio games

Kimiko hopes to reach new heights at Rio games

In just over a week, the best athletes in the world will converge on Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to compete in the Olympic Games.

Swimmer Kimiko Raheem will be one of Sri Lanka’s nine-member contingent, after she earned her ticket with a wild-card entry, having missed the required Olympic cut by a whisker.

Raheem had an impressive South Asian Games (SAG) 2016, where she was able to claim a total offive Gold medals and a Silver, which included a South Asian record and a Sri Lankan best at the 200m Breaststroke event.

She now turns her attention to Rio, where she would go head-to-head with many international swimmers in the 100m backstroke event. At 17, this is quite an achievement for her, as she would be one of the younger athletes at the Games.

Similar to her sisters Mayumi and Machiko Raheem, who have also represented Sri Lanka on the international stage,Kimiko says she’shoping to do justice to the opportunity presented to her, to represent the country.

Amidst her busy training sessions in Phuket, Thailand, Kimiko took the time to speak to Daily Mirror before she goes on to represent the country andsteps into the biggest stage in her life.

Q: What did you feel when you knew that you would be heading towardsqualifying for Rio?

I have been attending a “Targeting Rio” Swim Programme for the past year with 20 other swimmers from South Asian countries where we dedicated the entire year to swim training to target the Rio Olympics. The whole year was grueling, so discovering that I am going was a great feeling, as I know how hard I’ve worked for it. I am extremely honoured and grateful to have been given the privilege of representing my country at the Olympics, and I hope to do you all proud.

Q: You did extremely well at the SAG Games 2016. Tell us of your experience at the Games.What were your feelings as you were winning your events?

In 2006, when I was seven years old, I witnessed my sister Mayumi Raheem compete at the SAG Games held in Sri Lanka. She had outstanding performances, and won a total of 11 medals. Being so young, I was extremely inspired and looked forward to the day that I could do the same for Sri Lanka.

There was supposed to be another SAG Games in 2012, which we were all very excited for, but unfortunately it was postponed until they finally had it in 2016. However, it did help build up the anticipation for the competition, and made it all the more special.

Winning five Golds was great, and the support I got from Sri Lankans was beyond amazing. The number of encouraging messages of support and congratulations that I received was touching beyond words. All that support only fuels me to train even harder and target the next SAG Games where I will try to do something even better there.

Q: How have your training sessions gone so far ahead of the Games? For how long do you practice?

I am under a scholarship in a swimming programme from the international governing body of swimming – FINA. This programme requires it’s participants to take a gap year from school and focus entirely on swimming to target the Olympics. The training was tough, with about 25 hours of training per week – two, or sometimes even three sessions per day for most days of the week.

Q: Swimming isn’t your only focus as you’re very good at balancing swimming with your academics. Has swimming played a part in your academic experience, and if so, how?

In my family, the importance of education has always been very clear. Balancing swimming and academics is not easy, however if you get the right support, it is possible. Many people seem to believe that being a student athlete would bring your educational results down greatly. I greatly disagree.

Sport teaches you a great many important values that not only helps you do better in your education, but are also extremely valuable principles to carry on in life. Some examples of such principles are time management, discipline, dedication, and the general principle of hard work, which are great and very useful work ethics to have.

Q: While you’re capable of competing in all forms, is there any particular stroke that you prefer over the rest? If so, is there a particular reason for it?

As a kid, my coaches and teammates always saw my potential in Backstroke, so I grew up focusing on that stroke more than the others. Swimming it all the time, I have learned to love the stroke. I think what I love about it the most is when you’re underwater on your back, you are facing the sky and you can see the sky and clouds through the water past a faint reflection of yourself. It’s a beautiful sight and is one of the things I love most about it.

Q:You, along with your sisters, have had a great journey so far. How have your parents guided and supported you through all of it?

My sisters and I would never have achieved the things we have without the undying support of my parents. No matter how hard things may seem, they never give up, and would go to the moon and back to help us. Swimming and studying can also sometimes be very exhausting and can sometimes leave you feeling broken and worn-out. However, my parents were always there to cheer us up and for us to lean on when we needed it. We are extremely grateful for all they have done for us, and we know how blessed we are to have parents like them.

Q: How supportive have your friends and those closest been towards you reaching your goals and dreams?

Being a student athlete always means making sacrifices. We can’t be like normal kids – going to parties every weekend, late nights out etc. Missing out on such things that are so normal for other teenagers can be hard, but when you have friends that understand and still support you, it motivates you a great deal.
The close and family friends of mine also give me immense amounts of support always, and when such people are there for you, it definitely helps during those hard times in training or through those tough competitions where you do not perform as well as you would have wanted to. I also have many friends who I train with that have been imperative in my sudden and surprising improvement in my swimming in the past year.

As I said, this was indeed a very tough and demanding training camp, and with it being repetitive, it did leave me feeling quite run-down at times. However, my teammates always had an amazing vibe amongst them, and encouraged me through all the hard times, and I am forever grateful for their support. They are like a family to me, and I treasure them more than I can say.

Q: Do you have a hairstyle that you love because you can do it quickly after swim practice?

If you ask anyone that knows me what my favourite hairstyle is, they will tell you it’s my messy-bun. Swimmers are notorious for their messy, wet hair as they rush out of swim training to get to school or work. Being tight on time, few swimmers spend time tending to their looks. Most of us just do what has to be done and get our work done!

Q:What could we expect from you at the Games? What are your hopes and expectations?

I can guarantee that I will give it nothing less than my 100% at the Olympics. Unfortunately, I narrowly missed the Olympic cut in my 100m Backstroke by just 30 milliseconds, which was so heart-breaking. But I’m looking forward to achieve that time at the Olympics.

Q: What are your future plans? Would you keep continuing to pursue in swimming or do you have any other interests for the future?

I would like to keep pursuing my swimming, as I believe that I do have some potential and may be able to do something to change the history of Sri Lankan swimming. I want to inspire the next generation of Sri Lankan swimmers, as I know how much potential they have if they were to make a more serious commitment to swimming.

On my educational front, I would like to do something related to medicine. I’m very interested in Medicine, as I have many family members that are already involved in the field and I find the subject itself quite intriguing. However, I am also interested in other fields such as Kinesiology and Veterinary.

Q: We’ve seen Michael Phelps has quite an entourage when he competes at the Olympics, with his family and friends present. Will you have any of your family, watching you compete at the games?

I am lucky enough to be able to say that both my sisters and my parents will cheer me on at the Olympics. It’s great to have their support at such a big competition. It can be quite intimidating at times as it is the Olympics, but having them near to support me through, will surely make the experience all the better.

Posted on 2016-08-04 17:50:36
Sri Lankan Airlines
Nov 22
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Should Dilshan have continued until Cricket World Cup 2019?

Yes No

“That was pathetic. No excuse at all. The whole team is responsible. Whoever the captain is, we have to back him and try and support him. The captain has to do so many other stuff. All the 11 guys must back him and support him.” “We have addressed the issue of finishing off the overs on time in the past as well, but it cropped up again. It’s so unfortunate to see Upul going out as he is a crucial player in our set up. He batted well against South Africa and it’s so unfortunate. This can’t happen again,” - Angelo Mathews


Cricket is a game of fine margins and Mathews is set to be a modern great. Hang in their Angie, this team can achieve something on this tour. Thirimane and the youngsters form was a real positive. Prasad was missed. Chameera should be persisted with. If Bairstow was our early outcome could have been very different.


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