Atkinson pleased to make black history
RJR SportS Foundation Sportswoman of the Year runner-up, Alia Atkinson, said that it is a fulfilling feeling knowing that her world-record swim in the 50-metre breaststroke last year can inspire a new generation of black female swimmers.
Atkinson set the record in a time of 28.64 seconds at the FINA/Airweave Swimming World Cup in Tokyo, Japan, last October, becoming the first black swimmer to hold a world record on her own after equalling the old record the previous August.
"It's truly something remarkable to sit back and know that I've inspired one person, much less thousands of other people from all the different countries," Atkinson told The Gleaner.
DELIGHTED AT RECOGNITION
She said that she is delighted to know that her achievements have been noted not just in Jamaica, but all across the world, in places that are not traditionally known for producing good swimmers.
Atkinson's feat followed another historic moment in black history in aquatics as American swimmer Simone Manuel also made history at the 2016 Rio Olympics, becoming the first African-American female swimmer to win an Olympic medal in an individual event.
"We're seeing a lot of people from the African nations, the minorities coming out more, swimmers in the Caribbean, and it's truly fantastic to think that I may have been a part of that, so to break the world record as well, it kind of cements what I have done. It's just showing that it wasn't a one-time thing, this girl is the fastest person to ever have swam this event to date," Atkinson said. "She's a Jamaican, she's a person of colour and she's ... well, a female. I think it's something we can all sit back and think about, because it's truly a remarkable thing - the fastest person ever to come from Jamaica in swimming."
However, Atkinson said that she is not going to stop there and she is aiming to set even faster times this year.
"That is always the goal, to go faster," she said. "But right now, I'm going to control the things I can, and that's just getting better and trying to better my stroke and my technique and with that should come faster times."