It’s still an uphill battle for Alia Atkinson to get her performances in the pool noticed in her native Jamaica, especially with the superstars of track and field getting ready for their world championships at the same time. But her two medals in Russia at the long course worlds – a first for the Caribbean nation – is a big start in the right direction.
“Hopefully they’re getting excited (back home),” she said. “More swimmers are trying to come out for next year, and we’ll see if we have a bigger team for the Olympics.”
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Atkinson was able to win a bronze in the 100 breast and earned silver in the 50 breast in Russia, ending a long season in the spotlight that began in December when she won the short course world title in the 100 breast and became the first black female world swimming champion. She said earlier in the year that the pressure of proving herself in long course was a bit overwhelming, but once she got to the meet and began to show major gains, the pressure was off.
“Last worlds, I got ninth in both events, so to come back and medal in both is really showing that I’m improving throughout the years,” she said. “It’s fantastic!”