TOKYO, July 19 – National record holder in Women’s 50m and 100m butterfly Aniqah Gaffoor joined the Sri Lankan contingent in the Athletes’ Village today. On arrival, she was subject to a PCR test which indicated negative.
Gaffoor, who flew from Phuket, Thailand where she has been training, joined her team in the Japanese capital early this morning. She looked cheerful and determined to do well at the XXX11nd Olympic Games which starts on Friday.
She is a Grade 11 student at the UWC Thailand who competed last year for Sri Lanka at the South Asian Games in Nepal. She smashed the country’s national Women’s relay record by more than 15 seconds, coming in at four minutes 00.18s to win the Silver Medal in the Women’s 100m butterfly.
She will be competing in the first-round heats of her pet event on Saturday (24). Gaffoor had early setbacks when the COVID-19 pandemic stormed the world last year.
It affected her training schedules mid last year when all swimming venues in Thailand were closed.
“We were given dry land training schedules to follow at home to minimise the impact on us for not being able to swim in a pool. However, going back was initially hard, sustaining our fitness levels during the lockdown helped us transition back into the swim programme with relative ease,” she said.
She is the third Lankan to check in at the Athletes’ Village of 2020 Olympics after shuttler Niluka Karunaratna and shooter Tehani Egodawela. Two more Lankan competitors – gymnast Milka Gehani de Silva and judoka Chamara Dharmawardana will reach the Games Village tomorrow.
Only these five competitors will march in Friday’s opening ceremony, following the new rules introduced after fresh problems posed by COVID-19 pandemic.
However, freestyle swimmer Matthew Abeysinghe who is due from the US on Thursday (22) will not be able to march in the opening ceremony with the Sri Lanka Team as he has to honour the new COVID-19 regulation of three days of self quarantine.
Dharmawardana and Gehani will carry the Lion flag at the opening ceremony as Men’s and Women’s overall captains.
Although the special three-day human bubble is strictly implemented with those residing in the Games Village, the VIP guests and media are likely to be exempted.
Sri Lanka’s Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Namal Rajapaksa, who will grace the opening ceremony as a special guest is expected in Tokyo on Friday, according to Sri Lanka NOC officials.
There are just four days until the curtain is lifted on the highly anticipated Games of the XXXII Olympiad.
Running from July 23 to August 8, 2021, the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will see medals awarded in 339 events across 33 sports encompassing 46 disciplines.
Postponed for a year to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tokyo 2020 will be the second time the city has hosted the Olympic Games after it staged the event in 1964.
Athlete selections have been made and teams are busy arriving across the country, preparing to take part in the 33 sports of the Olympic Games including artistic gymnastics, athletics, swimming and basketball.
Although the Opening Ceremony signifies the start of the Games on Friday, the action actually gets underway two days earlier on Wednesday (21), with Australia facing hosts Japan in the softball in Fukushima and Great Britain against Chile in the Women’s football at the Sapporo Dome.