Mayumi Raheem was the ‘Golden Girl’ of Sri Lankan swimming
She was born on September 15, 1991 and began swimming at the age of eight under the guidance of coaches Sumith Dharmadasa, Faizal Junaid and Jaan Nurthi. She has also participated in netball and touch rugby.
She attended the United World College of South East Asia (UWCSEA) and was a member of the Singapore Swimming Club from 2004 until 2007 where she came under the guidance of Australian Coach Jaan Murphy.
She then swam for the Swim Fast Aquatic Club under former Singapore national record holder David Lim before moving to the Grassroots Club under American coach Jack Simon.
She produced her best performance at the 2006 South Asian Games in Colombo and won three Gold Medals, four Silver Medals and three Bronze Medals in a spectacular manner at the age of 14 years.
She won Gold Medals in the 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke events, Silver Medals in the 200m individual medley, 50m freestyle, 200m freestyle and 100m medley relay and Bronze Medals in the 100m medley, 100m freestyle and 100m freestyle relay events.
Thereafter, Raheem went on to steal the limelight when she produced a splendid performance to win a Bronze Medal at the FINA World Championship Meet in Singapore in October, 2007. She won the Bronze Medal in the Women’s 200 metres breaststroke event with a time of two minutes 37.48 seconds while bettering her Sri Lanka national record of two minutes 50.52s.
In the same tournament, competing in the Women’s 50m breaststroke event she missed the Bronze Medal by 5/100ths of a second coming in fourth place with a timing of 00:34.03s where she also bettered her own Sri Lanka national record of 00:36.10s.
In addition, in the Women’s 100e individual medley event, she clocked 01:09:27s, bettering her own record once again which stood at 01:12:24s. This means that she was able to break five records in the five events she competed with four of her own records in Sri Lanka and a record held by Menaka de Silva.
Her success at the South Asian Games was mainly due to the experience she obtained by participating in the Singapore Open Meet where she had the opportunity of competing against some of the elite swimmers in the region.
At the Singapore Open, she set a new meet record for the 200m breaststroke having earlier reached the semi-finals in the 50m breaststroke at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
A few days after the Commonwealth Games, Raheem travelled to Shanghai, China for the Short Course World Championships. She also competed in the World Championships in Montreal, Canada and at the
Asian Age Group Championships in Bangkok, Thailand. Although her family has been based in Singapore she has quite often participated at meets back at home as well.
In fact at the Sri Lanka National Championships in 2005, she won all five events she competed and was adjudged as the Best Female Swimmer of the meet. (C.D)