Alia fired up by record-setting CAC gold

Sunday, July 22, 2018

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BARRAQUILLA, Colombia — National swimming icon Alia Atkinson expressed satisfaction after her biggest signal yet about being on the right path to recovery and achieving her 2018 goal, winning Jamaica's first gold medal in a Games Record 1:06.83 in the A final of the women's 100m breaststroke, at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games on Friday night.

“(I feel) pretty good. This is my fastest time in the last two years so it's been a struggle since Olympics 2016. So I'm glad that I never gave up and I'm keeping at it and will hopefully get faster as it goes on,” said Atkinson.

“There's been a lot of ups and downs today (Friday) on the first day of the meet, and it really takes a great athlete to turn it around mentally, even physically, if you're not ready yet,” added Atkinson, captain of the national swim team and co-captain of the Jamaica female team at these Games. “So as a team I think we did well mentally, we just need to get there physically and hopefully tomorrow we'll do better.”

It was the 10th CAC Games gold medal for the 29-year-old Atkinson, whose career catapulted with five gold medals at the 2006 Games in this very South American country, in the city of Cartagena, before she earned four more in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, in 2010.

The Jamaican's rise in the sport continued to the point where she was a medal favourite for this, her pet event, after making the final at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, only to finish eighth. She said her winning time on Friday makes her particularly happy, noting she faced a struggle to stay true to the sport.

“There's many reasons. After Olympics it was kind of a disappointment. Mentally I had to get back, I had to fall in love with the sport again in order to continue after doing a lot of days in the pool, a lot of hours looking at the black line,” Atkinson shared. “So I had to fall in love with it again. Physically, I had to change where I am to adjust to an older body as an athlete as well. So it just took time to get where I am now.”

Atkinson is working her way towards swimming's World Championship, which will be held at year's end.

Her swim on Friday qualifies her automatically for the 2019 Lima Panam Games, and is just off the automatic qualifying mark of 1:06.18 for the 2019 Gwangju World Champs and 2018 Hangzhou World Short Course Champs.

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