LONDON, England — No doubt buoyed by her outstanding success in the women's 100m breaststroke final on Monday night at the Aquatic Centre in Olympic Park in Stratford, London, Alia Atkinson is appealing for financial help as she seeks to continue swimming through to the next Olympics in Brazil in 2016.
The 23-year-old Atkinson defied the odds here, breaking the national record twice in four swims to place fourth in the 100m breaststroke after coming into the competition ranked 17th in the world.
In an appeal to corporate Jamaica she said: "If you want me to get that medal in 2016 I need financial support. I would really like to continue swimming for Jamaica and continue to 2016 and get that medal I promised so many years ago but I do need the help."
The lack of support, she said, had driven a number of swimmers out of the sport, especially after they completed college and cited the case of national record holder Natasha Moodie, whom she said "should have been here for the 50m free style but because of no financial support she had to stop after college".
Atkinson told reporters she hoped her fourth place, equalling Jamaica's best performance ever in Olympic swimming after Janelle Atkinson placed fourth in the women's 400m freestyle in 2000 and Andrew Phillips placed sixth in the men's' 200m individual medley in 1984, would put Jamaica's swimming in the spotlight.
While saying she really wanted the medal, admitting to being "a little disappointed", she reiterated that "hopefully I can get some funding or sponsorship to get to 2016 because that is definitely a possibility if I can get financial support".
The former Texas A&M swimmer, who won the NCAA 200m breaststroke in 2010, has been a hit with Jamaicans all over the globe after her swims in the 100m breaststroke and has since opened an account on Twitter. "People have been telling me that my name is getting out there so I need to publicise myself some more, so I am trying to get my name out there," she explained.
Training in Jamaica, she said, would only be possible if there was funding for the travelling between the US mainland where the top competitions were, as well as if there was a proper coaching staff in place in Jamaica.
She said she would have no problems, however, if she was to train on occasions with the other national team members as well as to conduct clinics.