Inspired by early-season bronze, Alia targets more silverware in Shenzhen


Inspired by early-season bronze, Alia targets more silverware in Shenzhen

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

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After kicking off her 2020 campaign with a bronze medal win in the 50-metre breaststroke, Jamaica's champion swimmer Alia Atkinson will be aiming to make her first outing at the Shenzhen leg of the FINA Champions Series twice as nice when she contest the 100-metre breaststroke today.

Atkinson, the world short course 100m breaststroke record holder at 1:02.36, will lock horns with Italy's Martina Carraro, as well as Canadian Olympian Sydney Pickrem, and hometown talent Yu Jingyao at the Shenzhen Universiade Center Swimming Natatorium in China.

The sensational Atkinson, who is using the series as part of her preparations for the Tokyo Olympics later this year, made an early splash with her third-place finish in the 50m event yesterday.

She clocked 30.63 seconds to take the final podium position, and with it, US$6,000 for her efforts. Carraro finished tops in the event in 30.38 seconds to pocket the US$10,000 share of the prize money, while American Olympian Molly Hannis (30.49s) copped silver and US$8,000.

Atkinson's time represents her fastest swim in a January season opener, bettering her previous best of 32.73, which she clocked in the 2012 season. She went on to achieve her highest Olympic placing of fourth at the London Games.

With that in mind, the 31-year-old is aiming to make her fifth Olympic appearance the charm to secure an elusive medal at the global multi-sport event. Atkinson's first Olympic appearance as a teenager was at the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece.

“Being the beginning of 2020, and given the field of athletes here (FINA Champions Swim Series), this competition is important to see where I am, and also to measure what I can succeed at the Olympics — what is in reach or not,” Atkinson shared.

The second staging of the series, which brings together the top swimmers from around the world in their respective disciplines is by invitation and Atkinson is the lone female swimmer from the Caribbean invited to take part.

She was also the only female swimmer invited to compete on a team in the debut season of the International Swimming League for Team Iron.

Atkinson will be hoping to replicate her 2015 performances this year, as that period represented her most successful appearance at the FINA World Championships, when she earned silver in the 50m and bronze in the 100m breaststroke, in Kazan, Russia.

In 25m pool, she has 10 podium finishes, including four titles– 50m and 100m breaststroke in 2018, and 100m breaststroke in 2016 and 2014.

She has also made numerous appearances and had success in the FINA Swimming World Cup.

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