Alia's second gold brightens day for Jamaica

...Unlucky Reggae Girlz lose again, went down 1-2 to Costa Rica

Sunday, July 22, 2018

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BARRANQUILLA, Colombia — Alia Atkinson won Jamaica and herself a second gold medal at the 23rd Central American and Caribbean Games, winning the women's 50- metres butterfly 'A' final in 26.60 seconds yesterday at the Eduardo Movilla Aquatics Complex.

“Pretty good,” Atkinson said about her second gold in as many individual races. She noted though that the heat was taking a toll.

“I'm starting to feel the effects of the dehydration and heat, so hopefully I can continue and get better as it goes along. The medical staff is here and the physio are excellent, so it should work,” she noted of the near-100 degree heat at daytime.

Commenting on her race, Atkinson noted: “It was a bit harder than I thought. It wasn't as clean as I thought it would have been but hopefully in the future we'll get it better for the finals. It was more of the effects of the dehydration and the tightening of the muscles.”

The co-captain of Jamaica's female team and captain of the swimming team produced a strong second half to power away from Venezuela's Jeserik Pinto, who clocked 26.76 for silver, and Mexico's bronze medal winner Ibanez Lopez, who timed 27.08 seconds.

Atkinson had won Jamaica's first medal the previous night when she conquered the women's 100m breaststroke final in a record 1:06.83. Her latest win has increased Atkinson's CAC Games medal haul to 11.

The two gold medals are the only ones won by Jamaica since the Games opened on Thursday, July 19. It will end on August 3.

Meanwhile, the Jamaican saying indicating misfortune — “when you salt you salt” — perfectly conjures the Reggae Girlz' 2-1 loss against Costa Rica in their women's football match earlier at Estadio Julio Torres Moderno

Khadija Shaw put Jamaica in front at the 57th with a solo goal, taking the ball from the half line then running at three defenders. As she neared the top of the penalty box she drifted wide then hit a grounder across the goalie and into the far post, to give Jamaica a 1-0 lead.

Costa Rica equalised at the 66th minute when the Central American's captain and central defender, Nairelis Gutierrez forged forward and pounced on the ball near 35 yards, then let a rocket fly that sailed over Jamaica's goalie and into the net to tie the score 1-1.

However, Jamaica's troubles really started with five minutes left on the clock, when goalkeeper Chris-Ann Chambers fell to the ground. This happened only seconds after Jamaica had made its third and final substitution, replacing outfield striker Sashana Campbell with Kevena Reid.

Medical personnel came onto the pitch and, after a very brief assessment, put the goalie onto a stretcher and whisked her off the field. What this meant, essentially, is Jamaica's team had to be reduced to 10 players.

As they must have a goalkeeper, the team's top player, Shaw, was given that role. The footballer plays a major role in the team as she drives offence and holds up the ball. Due to an injury suffered in a cruel 2-1 loss in their first game, she did not start against Costa Rica.

Shaw would make three catches as keeper in the game restarted at the 87th minute to keep the game at 1-1 until inside the fourth minute added for stoppages, Nicaraguan female referee Tatiana Guzman awarded a penalty when Karla Torres took a spectacular dive after Deneisha Blackwood faced her to the left side of the penalty box.

Deyna Castellanos then stepped up to strike the ball past Shaw to hand Jamaica their second 2-1 loss in as many chances, virtually eliminating them from the competition.

“That was a clear dive as you can get. That referee, all the years we've gotten her, U17s, U20s, she always had it out for us and she had to find a way to give it to them,” observed Jamaica's head coach, Lorne Donaldson. “We all know she's a big diver and she took the bait… and gave her a PK (penalty kick) in the last minute, it's bad.”

Commenting on the goalkeeper situation, Donaldson said it complicated matters.

“The goalkeeper went down, I hope she's okay. Then we had to take out our best player and put her in the goal, that complicates things even more … I'll say it again, we'll have to start fighting this stuff and we have the people to do it. it's just that the football guys right now are not looking out for us.”

The loss kept Jamaica's Reggae Girlz bottom of Pool A without a point, following an equally luckless 2-1 loss in their opening game against Venezuela. Shaw missed two penalties in that match, one inside the last minute.

The losing trend followed Jamaica throughout the day as the men's hockey team suffered a 1-0 loss against Barbados, for whom Shonteel Wharton scored a fluke goal early in the first half.

“The stats would've said we had more possession of the ball, we had more passes, but we just were unable to convert,” said Jamaica's head coach, Nicholas Brown. “A lot of the times we should've got some fouls that we didn't get, and fouls that Barbados got should've gone in our favour. But that's how the ball rolls, you've two umpires to deal with and they saw it in that light. we just had to play, which we did until the final whistle.”

The game was their first of three and Brown says they have their work cut out for them.

“The cards are now stacked up against us. We have Cuba, which is the number one team, and then after that we have Trinidad and Tobago, who beat Cuba 2-1 this morning. The guys are still very upbeat and we're looking forward to the match on Monday.”

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