Nanjing, China: Machiko Raheem is a 17 year old girl representing Sri Lanka in the girls 50m, 100m and the 200m freestyle swimming events at the 2nd Asian Youth Games held in Nanjing, China. Machiko, is the third child who has four other siblings. Her older sister, Mayumi Raheem, is the national record holder of many swimming events in Sri Lanka, who was also granted the honor of competing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics at the tender age of just 17.
The Sri Lankan youngster claims that swimming has been a part of her life ever since she could remember as she was only about 2 years old when she first started. Although she started swimming at an early age she only took it on competitively at the age of 8. Unlike her older sister, who is now a devoted medical student and no longer carries on her competitive swimming career, Machiko plans on sticking to the sport and taking her swimming career to the professional level.
When inquired about her overall impression on the AYG, she gleefully answered that she very much liked it, as it was always surrounded with a good atmosphere. She particularly praised the organization of the AYG, showing her fascination over the event. She added that the food, transportation and other facilities were all to her liking and was pleased by the warmth and friendliness of the volunteers, which in turn had made her eager to return to Nanjing next year for the Youth Olympics.
Machiko claimed that she did not have much spare time on her hands. She added that she had been practicing whenever she had the chance to do so revealing her passion and dedication for the sport which paid off nicely, as she grabbed the fifth spot in the girls’ 100m freestyle finals this evening.
She remembered walking at the Opening parade as her best memory of the AYG. Seeing other young athletes having fun and chatting with their fellow mates has brought a smile to Machiko’s face. She stated that having made a number of foreign friends, added sparkles to the charm of the AYG.
Interestingly, she mentioned that no person or sportsman has ever inspired her. She claimed that only the thought of being the best is what inspires her. Maybe this kind of inspiration might get her closer to achieving her dream, which is the Rio Olympics in Brazil 2016.
Machiko wanted to thank her family and her coach for making her who she is today. I personally would like to wish her good luck with her endeavors for the future.
By Sashin Karunarathne,
OCA Young Reporter.