Sun | Aug 19, 2018

CAC gold breathes new life into Atkinson

Published:Sunday | July 22, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Alia Atkinson

BARRABNUILLA , Colombia:

National swimming icon Alia Atkinson expressed satisfaction after her biggest signal yet to being on the right path to recovery following her gold medal in a Games record time of 1:06.83 in the women's 100m breaststroke at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games on Friday night.

"(I feel) pretty good. This is my fastest time in the last two years, so it's been a struggle since Olympics 2016, so I'm glad that I never gave up and I'm keeping at it and will, hopefully, get faster as it goes on," said Atkinson.

"There have been a lot of ups and downs today (Friday) on the first day of the meet, and it really takes a great athlete to turn it around mentally, even physically, if you're not ready yet," added Atkinson, captain of the national swim team and co-captain of the Jamaica female team at these Games. "So as a team, I think we did well, mentally. We just need to get there physically and, hopefully, tomorrow we'll do better."

It was the 10th CAC Games gold medal for the 29-year-old Atkinson, whose career took a big leap with five gold medals at the 2006 Games in Cartagena, Colombia, before she earned four more in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, in 2010.

Her rise in the sport continued to the point where she was a medal favourite for this, her pet event, after making the final at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, only to finish eighth. She said that her winning time on Friday makes her particularly happy, noting that she faced a struggle to stay true to the sport.

"There are many reasons. After Olympics, it was kind of a disappointment. Mentally, I had to get back. I had to fall in love with the sport again in order to continue after doing a lot of days in the pool, a lot of hours looking at the black line," Atkinson shared. "So I had to fall in love with it again. Physically, I had to change where I am to adjust to an older body as an athlete as well. So it just took time to get where I am now."

Atkinson is working her way towards the World Swimming Championships, which will be held from December 11-16 in Hangzhou, China.