A’Level boy Akalanka fails to qualify in pet event

St. Peter’s College, Colombo, schoolboy Akalanka Peiris, who sat three question papers of his Advanced Level Examination while he is in Indonesia for the 18th Asian Games, failed to qualify for the finals of the men’s 50m butterfly swimming event on Thursday, 23 August.

In 50m butterfly heat 3, Peiris clocked 25.20 seconds to be placed second but the feat was not enough to qualify him for the event’s finals. Yet the timing marked his all-time best and put Akalanka in the 25th position out of the 40 participants in this event.

Singaporean Joseph Schooling won the gold medal with a timing of 23.61 seconds on Thursday. The silver and bronze medals went to China and Kazakhstan respectively.

The 18-year-old Akalanka is the current Sri Lankan record-holder in the 50m and 100m backstroke and 50m butterfly events.

Also taking part in the 50m men’s backstroke heats later, Peiris timed 26.57 seconds, yet failed to enter finals. China’s Jiayu Xu won its gold with a time of 24.75.

Earlier Sri Lanka’s 4x100m freestyle team comprising Peiris was disqualified in the trials due to an ineligible start by one of their swimmers.

A 9 A’s student from St. Peter’s –

Akalanka, who had obtained nine A’s for his O’Levels at St. Peter’s, became the first sportsperson in the country to sit the AL examination in such unusual manner. He did so under special supervision by two officials of the national Examination Department who were especially flown to Jakarta. Akalanka sat the papers at the residence of Sri Lanka ambassador in Indonesia, Darshana Perera.

Akalanka sat the first of his three A’Level papers –an aptitude test– on Saturday, August 18 morning, a few hours before Indonesian President Joko Widodo declared open the 18th Asian Games. He sat the other two, English and Economics, last Monday and Tuesday respectively.

Without him in Indonesia, Sri Lanka would not have been able to field a team for the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay where they had a fare chance of winning a medal.

“Akalanka’s parents came to us and told us the problem their son faced. He is a very good student but also is a good swimmer. We wanted him to participate at the Asian Games. I spoke to the Education Ministry and was told that as long as he was able to sit the exams at the same time as other children in Sri Lanka, and under supervision, they would not have a problem of him taking it in Jakarta,” Maxwell de Silva, Secretary General, National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka, told media last week.

This year’s GCE Advanced Level Examination which began on 6 August will go on till 1 September.


* Above picture shows Akalanka Peiris, on right, with Sri Lanka’s ambassador in Jakarta, Darshana Perera.