Alia Atkinson to lead plunge into the pool
GLASGOW, Scotland — By the strictest of measures, Alia Atkinson cannot be considered a minnow in the swimming pool. If one would dare venture to say she's now a big fish, it would have been justifiable by her consistently high-quality performances for her country Jamaica.
And again, she is expected to come up big.
That Alia Atkinson is a true star of the sport and a champion in the making is easy reckoning for swimming boss Martin Lyn.
"I seriously expect Alia to medal in the 50m and 100m breaststroke," he told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
Alia Atkinson's quest for Commonwealth Games medals starts today as she seeks to blow the opposition out of the water at the Tollcross Swimming Centre this morning at 11:38 (5:38 am Jamaica time) in the women's breaststroke.
Atkinson, 25, has been Jamaica's flagbearer at swimming for some time now and again she will lead a promising bunch of "youngsters" into battle.
And more than anything else, the Texas A&M student needs to be focused.
"I feel strongly about the prospects for us to medal. Alia is very focused, so, too, Zara Bailey. Timothy Winter also has been competing at a very high level, and with that, I see us making a lot of finals. Also, we expect a lot from Dominic Walter and Jevon Atkinson," said Lyn, president of the Amateur Swimming Association of Jamaica.
Atkinson, who finished fourth at the 2012 London Olympics after battling Canadian Tera Van Beilin in a swim-off to make the final, is no stranger to the Commonwealth Games, having competed in 2006 and 2010.
The swimming boss said he has all reasons to be satisfied with the condition and state of mind of the water-bound athletes and singled out team coach, the American-based Christopher Johnson, for his efforts in moulding a formidable unit.
"They (swimmers) did well in preparation and everybody has bonded and the coach tells me that the swimmers are upbeat and positive," beamed Lyn.
In another aquatic sport, Jamaica has a single soul chasing glory. The prospects of a medal in diving may not appear as rosy as that of those plunging in from the deck, but Yona Knight-Wisdom has worked hard to get here and he is expected to soar with pride against formidable opposition.
"Don't forget that we have a diver in competition, as well. Yona Knight-Wisdom has come to us very focused, so we expect a lot from him," Lyn said, spewing an air of confidence.
But in the case that the medal podium is not a destination for Jamaica's swimmers at these Games, Lyn will take comfort that within the rank blooms youth, therefore the future of the nation's swimming would have been set on a progressive course.
"But a lot of these athletes are young and even if they don't medal this time, just the exposure will do a lot for them as we look to the future."
Other Jamaican swimmers taking the pool today are Zara Bailey in the heats of the women's 400m individual medley and the 100m butterfly; Trudiann Patrick in the women's 100m butterfly; Dominic Walter in the men's 400m freestyle, and Timothy Wynter in the heats of the men's 50m butterfly and the 100m backstroke.
Jamaica last won a medal in swimming at the 2002 Commonwealth Games when Jhanell Atkinson secured two bronze medals in the 400m and 800m freestyle events.