Sun | Nov 29, 2020

I have no limits - Alia Atkinson

Published:Sunday | October 14, 2018 | 12:00 AMHubert Lawrence

Appreciative of the National Award she will receive today, record breaking swimmer Alia Atkinson says her success is the result of perseverance. Speaking in Kingston the day before the National Awards and Honours ceremony, Atkinson says she is putting no limits on what she might achieve for the rest of her time in the pool. Accordingly, she hopes to lower the world record she holds in the short course 50 and 100m breaststroke.

Set to receive the Order of Distinction in the Rank of Commander, the sixth highest honour a Jamaican national can receive, on Jamaica's National Heroes' Day, Atkinson glowed with pride. "A lot of stuff has led me to where I am, mostly it has to do with preservation, because if I had stopped before college, I wouldn't have NCAA championships," she related. "If I had stopped after college, I wouldn't have gotten world records and so it's more of everything that my family has, everything that I embody, everything that has taught me and made me what I am today is the result of the award tomorrow," she said gratefully.

Just last week, the 29-year-old four-time Olympian set a world record of 28.56 seconds in the 50m breaststroke, having twice equalled the mark in the 100m event. She believes that some of her ability was given to her by genetics. Her father, Tweedsmuir, was a star thrower at Calabar High and her maternal uncles include Karl Smith, a 1984 Olympic semi-finalist in the 400m hurdles. "So, I think I'm a combination, a great combination, of all my family's genes," she surmised. "I think it just came together."

She's understandably happy about her recent form. She started this season's FINA World Cup with victory in Eindhoven, Holland but exploded with a double in Budapest, Hungary last week. "Going into it, I just wanted to get better and better as it went on and one of my friends actually sent me one of the scriptures, John 3:34, it's like you have a spirit without a limit and it was weird because I read it before, but for some reason, it just, it resonated something in me."

The Bible quote melted her worries away. She first threatened her co-world record in the 100m breast stroke with a swim of 1:02.80 minutes. That's just off the world record of 1:02.36 minutes. Then she came back with the new mark in the 50.

Though she turns 30 in December, she is hoping for more. "It's strange because a lot of people have spoken to me, like how can you still be in the sport when you almost 30, how can you be in the sport for this long, how can you do that to your body, how can you do that mentally and all that," the 2006 Olympic finalist remarked, "but it has never really been a hindrance to me."

Fans who worry that she will soon take a seat in the stands can relax. "I have no limits", she asserted. "There is no, 'oh I've reached 25, time to stop. I've accomplished this, time to stop,'" she said. "I've never put what I've reached as my highest goal. There's always something else after that."