Alia leads medal charge as aquatics gets going at the CAC Games

...Diver Knight-Wisdom falls short in 1m springboard event

Friday, July 20, 2018

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Champion swimmer Alia Atkinson will lead Jamaica's medal charge when aquatics action gets under way at the 23rd Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Barranquilla, Colombia, today.

The four-time Olympian, who holds the championship records in the 50-metre breaststroke (31.91s), 100m breaststroke (1:10.24) and 200m individual medley (IM) at 2:17.31, is expected to put on a good show in motivating her teammates, particularly those that will be making their senior debuts.

In addition, the swimmers will also be seeking to add to Jamaica's 20 medals won at these games over the years, after the country missed out on participation at Veracruz, Mexico, in 2014.

For Atkinson, it is also an opportunity to add to her seven gold medals at these games, which she earned between 2006 — CAC debut in Cartagena, Colombia, becoming the first gold medallist in the 50m breaststroke and butterfly when those events were introduced — and 2010.

The 'darling of the pool' is expected to line up in the 50m and 100m butterfly, 50m and 100m freestyle and her pet events — the 50m and 100m breaststroke.

Though representing Jamaica at the senior level at various championships before, both Keanan Dols and Michael Gunning will be making their CAC Games debut.

Dols, who was a standout swimmer for Jamaica throughout his junior career and who transitioned well setting three national records in 2016, will also be busy in the pool as he is expected to be on show in the 50m, 100m, and 200m butterfly, 50m and 100m freestyle, 100m and 200m backstroke, as well as the 200m IM.

Gunning, who holds national records in the 200m and 400m freestyle, as well as the 200m butterfly, is expected to line up in those events along with the 200m IM.

His brother Luke will be representing Jamaica for the first time at any level and he is eager to make his presence felt in the 50m and 100m butterfly and 100m freestyle.

Meanwhile, fresh from outstanding regional junior performances so far this year, senior team debutants Bryanna Renuart and Emily MacDonald, should not for a moment be underestimated, as both possess some quality which should see them holding their own against the competition.

Despite the increased level of competition, both MacDonald, who celebrated her 15th birthday a few weeks ago and Ohio-based Renuart, 17, could sneak in a few podium finishes for the Gillian Millwood-coached team based on their current form.

MacDonald is set to show in the 50m, 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle, as well as in the 50m backstroke and 100m fly.

Renuart will join Alia in the 50m and 100m breaststroke, before carrying the country's medal hopes in the 200m breaststroke, 100m backstroke and the 200m and 400m IM.

Meanwhile, Jamaican diver Yona Knight-Wisdom failed to make progress in the 1m springboard event yesterday.

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