Sun | Dec 4, 2016

This is only the beginning! - World swimming record holder Atkinson vows to continue improvements

Published:Saturday | January 10, 2015 | 12:00 AMShayne Fairman
Gladstone Taylor/Photographer Jamaica's first swimming world champion Alia Atkinson shows off her gold and silver medals won at the 12th FINA World Short Course Championship in Doha, Qatar last year at the welcome reception held by Grace Kennedy at the Government Lounge at the Norman Manley International Airport yesterday.

Alia Atkinson, who swam an impressive 1:02.36 in Doha, Qatar late last year to become joint world record holder in the women's 100m breast stroke, said she will be working hard to break the world record by the 2016 Rio de Janiero Olympic Games in Brazil.

She was speaking yesterday at her official welcome/ reception ceremony at the Government Lounge at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.

Atkinson also noted she will be going all out to become the world's top swimmer.

"This is just the start (her record time). My goal from here is always to be on top and get the world record," Atkinson explained.

"Whether I get the record next year, I will be working to achieve only my best," Atkinson told The Gleaner at yesterday's event.

Atkinson noted that her impressive performance was decades in coming, while crediting family, her support team - inclusive of the Amateur Swimming Association of Jamaica (ASAJ), GraceKennedy Money Service (GKMS) and the Jamaican public.

Given her historic swim in Doha, Atkinson is now the first Jamaican, Caribbean and the first black female swimmer to hold a world title and swimming record.

Natalie Neita-Headley, minister with responsibility for sport said Atkinson's performance eclipsed a long-standing record and put to rest myths surrounding the sport.

"We are proud of Alia, our world record holder. Alia has achieved a record in another sport other than track and field and has put to rest some myths about people of African descent in the sport of swimming," the minister reasoned.

 

GKMS brand ambassador

 

Atkinson, a GKMS brand ambassador, celebrated a year's anniversary with the company, while committing to further the partnership beyond 2015.

"Her character and what she does in the swimming pool is very important to us at GraceKennedy," said CEO Don Wehby. "This was the first time we were making someone outside of track and field an ambassador and we did so knowing she is special."

Meanwhile, ASAJ president, Martin Lyn described Alia as the face of local swimming.

"We appreciate what Alia has done and achieved, her determination has set her apart and she has set the stage for future Alias to follow," he added.