South Asia’s Fastest Man – Yupun Abeykoon

Bringing pride to Sri Lanka, Yupun Abeykoon is inspiring, dedicated, fully focused, courageous, and determined to fulfil his goals. The rising superstar currently holds the record for South Asia’s Fastest Man. The Italy-based Sri Lankan Sprinter is also competing in this years’ Olympic Games taking place in Tokyo, Japan, between 23rd July and 3rd August. We wish Abeykoon greater success and a long-lasting legacy.

Who is Yupun Abeykoon?

A passionate, dedicated, and committed individual. I would never give up on my dreams at any cost.

Could you tell us about your journey into track and field?

It started when I was studying at Pannala National School. Like every kid, I wanted to take part in the School Sports Meet. I was nine years when I participated in my first running event where I placed first. That was the starting point of my athletic journey, and I should mention Ms. Subadhra for encouraging me to try this.

Later, when I was 16 years old, a coach at St. Joseph Vaz College wanted me to join their school where I was moulded into the person I am today.

What’s the secret to your success and what does ‘success’ mean to you?

It’s not a secret, just having a dream, being consistent, and never giving up.

Success for me is being the best version of myself.

Tell us about your experience working with The Sports Manager. How has it helped you?

The Sports Manager LK has helped to create and manage commercial opportunities in Sri Lanka for me to focus on achieving my goals. I can say that it’s a great partnership that I have built with them.

I think there are a few sports management services for other sports in Sri Lanka, but this is the first time a Sri Lankan platform is focused on athletics and other sports. It’s a great opportunity for Sri Lankan sportsmen and women.

For an athlete to compete in international events, win, and focus on performance, it’s crucial to receive support from external parties.

What inspires you?

Everyone dreams when they are young and my dream was to become an athlete.

I watched the Rio Olympics at home and I watched how Usain Bolt broke world records one after the other.

I imagined myself breaking records in sequence someday just like him. I think that’s what inspired me to be the Fastest Man in South Asia.

Tell us about the person who you are most grateful for in your life, and why?

I can’t name one person, but I’m grateful for my family, the coaches who helped me when I was in Sri Lanka, and my coaches Claudio and Maurizio in Italy. Many people helped me in this journey and I am grateful for all of them.

Who is your favourite athlete?

Usain Bolt.

Leading up to an event, how do you mentally prepare and train yourself?

It all depends on the training you have. When you train well, you feel confident to face any challenge out there. Before every race, I tell myself that ‘no matter who is there to compete with me, I will do my best.’

How do you cope with the mental and physical stresses of sport?

Training and events are both stressful. It’s important to maintain your best always and live in the game. I always dedicate my time to maintain my performance. It is hard, I’m not saying it’s easy, but when I think that my future depends on what I do today, it’s easy for me to focus on what’s best.

Focusing on my purpose helps me cope with stress.

Can you describe the feeling and thoughts you had upon winning the title of ‘South Asia’s Fastest Man’ and then later when you qualified for the Olympics?

I am very proud that I am able to make my country proud in whatever I achieve in my career, especially, being the fastest man in South Asia. I will continue to do my best to keep the Sri Lankan flag flying high in the world.

When I got qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, I realised how unpredictable life is because a few seconds can change someone’s life. Although the race is completed within 9-10 seconds, the hours, days, weeks, months and years of blood and sweat behind the scene is immeasurable. I felt proud that I never gave up. I’m grateful for the lessons I have learned in this journey and excited for my future.

What advice would you like to share with athletes back at home? 

A man should dare to dream. Not every person on this planet can come empty-handed and leave with their name in history. It takes courage, dedication and perseverance. I say these words to everyone running behind a dream.

It would be my greatest joy and satisfaction if you remember to take courage from my story each time you stumble, or even when a well-deserved opportunity is snatched away from you, and you feel like giving up.

I have a right to speak these words because I too am someone who made it through many such obstacles in life. I would not be voicing my story today if I had given up back then. So never give up, and follow your dreams

The Sports Manager

What inspired you to become Sri Lanka’s first sports agency?

Athletes dream and set goals from a very young age, but realise that there are unfortunate circumstances and various obstacles that prevent them from achieving those dreams. In an era where world sport is growing to greater heights, an athlete is recognised as a professional who requires facilities to train and compete full time. A major portion of Sri Lankan athletes makes career shifts due to the inability to continue their sporting careers.

This inspired The Sports Manager LK to create a platform to help these dreams to become a reality with the mutual goal of bringing glory to Sri Lanka.

Why should athletes choose to work with you?

The Sports Manager LK has a holistic approach that goes beyond finding sponsorship or endorsements. It is a place that cares about upbringing, mental health and life after retirement; a place athletes can feel at home.

Also, it’s linked up with some of the major leagues and sports events in the world, and through that, we want to create an opportunity for Sri Lankan athletes to compete and get exposure in international arenas.

As the first sports agency in Sri Lanka that caters to a wider range of sports, it looks to bridge the gap between athletes and their full potential by providing guidance, education and constant support to aim higher.

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