Alia wins 100m breaststroke in record time
Olympian Alia Atkinson made history for Jamaica yesterday when she equalled the world record in the 100 metres breaststroke at the 12th FINA World Short Course Championships in Doha, Qatar.
Atkinson touched just ahead of defending champion Ruta Meilutyte to claim the gold and equal the record of 1:02.36. Meilutyte was clocked in 1:02.46. The winning time was also a new meet record.
"I'm not used to seeing my name up there at No. 1. It's a good shock," said a smiling Atkinson after her win.
It is Jamaica's first short-course world title - a big improvement on Atkinson's achievement as the only Jamaican swimmer to ever finish with silver medals in the 50m breaststroke in 2012 and 2014 and the 100m breaststroke in 2012.
Atkinson's time tied Ruta Meilutyte's world record of 1:02.36 from the Moscow stop of the FINA World Cup. It also broke Meilutyte's meet record of 1:02.43 set Friday during qualifying rounds.
With yesterday's win Atkinson also became the first black woman to hold a world short-course record since Enith Brigitha of the Netherlands 40 years ago. Brigitha set the 100m freestyle standard three times in her career.
In yesterday's event both Atkinson and Meilutyte who are known for their fast reaction times, were off ahead of the field with reaction times of 0.65 and 0.59, respectively. Meilutyte led after the first 50 metres turning in :29.10 ahead of Atkinson's :29.46. Atkinson then exhibited brilliant form in overhauling Meilutyte in the second half of the race and in the process became the first female Caribbean swimmer to win a World Championship gold medal.
Overall Atkinson has been having an outstanding championships. Her silver in the 50m breaststroke on day two was achieved in a personal best time of 28.91. She also earned a fourth-place finish on day three in the 100m individual medley in 58.58.
Her final event, the 200m breaststroke, begins with today's heats.