Atkinson hoping for more Colombian success
Alia Atkinson is back on familiar territory, looking to make the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, yet again, a springboard for world-conquering performances.
In 2006, it was in this same South American country that the Jamaican swimmer, only 17 years old at the time and fresh from her debut Olympic showing two years earlier in Athens, blew away all before her to win five gold medals at the CAC Games in Cartagena.
Back on her old stomping ground, the multiple World-record holder and World Championship medal winner is not taking anything for granted, choosing instead to adapt a more pragmatic approach to competition that targets goals as opposed to expectations.
"I was told by a friend a long while ago to stop having expectations because expectations will lead to disappointments because you don't reach it. Expectations are more of things that you cannot control, and it's basically somebody else in control of that," Atkinson, now a lot more mature and accomplished at 29, reasoned.
"You can't say, 'Okay, I'm going to win six golds'. There's like seven other people in the final with you, and they all have the same goal. So I have goals, not necessarily expectations because I'm not expecting to win."
To add clarity, Atkinson continued: "I have a goal to win. I have the times and the practice that I want to do in order to win it. I know the times that will win it, I just have to do that time. [With] expecting, so many things could happen, there's so many different factors.
"I have a goal in which I can control - good starts, good finishes, work on my pace, be able to come back in my pace - and if all that goes well then it will, be a good enough time to medal. That's my goal," said joint captain of the CAC Jamaica women's team and captain of the swim team.
"My major performance this year was Commonwealth Games, and it definitely enhanced my mentality because I realised where I am and where I need to get, where I need to be, and what I need to do to get back to it because Commonwealth was a bit rocky," analysed Atkinson. "So the training and everything else need to be changed. I needed to fine-tune that, and this is the opportunity that I get to see where I'm at before Worlds in December."
Of course, she will be looking to expand a nine-medal CAC gold tally, having secured the other four closer to home in Mayag¸ez, Puerto Rico.
Atkinson has won eight World Championship medals - two gold, four silver and two bronze - three Commonwealth medals, and two at Pan Am.