Alia strikes gold again, as hockey girls score big win at CAC Games

Monday, July 23, 2018

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BARRANQUILLA, Colombia — Alia Atkinson put in a command performance to win herself and Jamaica's third gold medal at the 23rd Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games at the Eduardo Movilla Aquatic Complex last night.

Atkinson clocked 30.19 seconds, distancing herself from Melissa Rodriguez Villanueva of Mexico, who took silver in 31.20 seconds and Venezuelan Mercedes Toledo, who timed 31.99 for third.

“I wanted to go out and do the best that I could,” said Atkinson, who was winning her 12th gold medal at the CAC Games. She had won five in Cartagena, Colombia, in 2006, and four in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, in 2010.

“The breaststroke is my pet and I had a goal,” she added. “I wanted to go under 30. Point 19 off, that's not too bad.”

The Jamaican swimming icon was most fittingly presented with her medal by president of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) Christopher Samuda.

Jamaica's medal tally now stands at four, the three gold won by Atkinson, plus bronze won by Chris Binnie in the men's individual squash competition.

Earlier, Atkinson, swimming out of lane one, barely missed out on the bronze medal in the final of the women's 100m freestyle A final, finishing fourth in 55.41 seconds.

The Jamaican went into the final with the seventh-fastest time and looked strong throughout the first half, only to get outlasted in a bang-up finish.

Home girl Isabella Hurtado won in 55.21 seconds, while The Bahamas' Joanna Evans took silver in 55.29 ahead of Mexico's Liliana Ibanez Lopez, who nipped Atkinson with a 55.39-second timing.

Led by two goals from Shareeka Elliott, Jamaica's senior women's hockey team defeated Guatemala 5-0 at the Pibe Valderrama Complex yesterday afternoon to bounce back into contention as they moved to three points.

“This is a team that we should beat … we're happy that we delivered and achieved our objectives today,” said Christine Bartley, coach of the Jamaica team.

Asked if she was satisfied with the scoreline, Bartley said, “No, we would've wanted more goals.”

Following a goalless first half, in which they missed countless chances, Demi Nicholson opened the scoring at the 36th minute to begin a flurry. Elliott then scored at the 38th and 43rd minutes, while Trudyann Knight (50th) and Kamille Griffiths (51st) accounted for the other goals.

“We were just rushing the game, we just needed some composure,” said Elliott of their first-half play. “We came off and said, 'We have to do this because we didn't come so far to lose' … we need to win to get to the semi-finals.”

The Jamaicans had suffered a 0-1 loss against Barbados in their opening game of the four-team Pool B. Two will advance to the medal play-offs, while the others will play for the minor positions.

Jamaica will next play Trinidad and Tobago tomorrow and could claim a spot in the top four with a win. Trinidad and Tobago blanked Guatemala 12-0 in their opening match.

Jamaica's men's team, which also lost 0-1 against Barbados in their opening match on Saturday, will be in action today against Cuba at 1:00 pm.

“We saw Cuba and we saw some mistakes they were making, they were slow to adjust, but they are still running and their movement off the ball is very, very good,” analysed Jamaica's Head Coach Nicholas Brown.

He added: “One of the things that is working against all the teams here at this tournament is the turf. It's totally different to everybody; it's very bouncy and it's very hard to control the ball. So tactically you have to adjust as the game goes along and take your chances when they come.”

Meanwhile, the women's senior basketball team extended their losing sequence in a 37-67 loss against US Virgin Islands (USVI) yesterday at the Elias Chegwin Coliseum.

The Jamaicans were competitive in the first half, despite trailing 25-32. However, their game deteriorated considerably in the second half as a result of poor shooting mainly and, by the end of the third quarter, the contest was over with the USVI leading 52-29.

Point guard Tashawna Higgins and Cadene Cowan led Jamaica's scoring with 11 points apiece, while Captain Sasha Dixon netted seven. Higgins also dished out seven assists, while Ladonna Lamonth pulled in 11 rebounds, Cowan, nine, and Dixon, seven.

For the USVI, Imani Tate (18), Anisa George (17) and Natalie Day (15) led the scoring.

Jamaica have previously lost 23-87 and 36-67 against Cuba and Colombia, respectively.

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