Sun | Oct 17, 2021

Champions Series to provide Olympic test for Atkinson

Published:Tuesday | January 14, 2020 | 12:16 AMDaniel Wheeler/Gleaner Writer

Olympian and world record holder Alia Atkinson opens her 2020 season today at the first meet of the FINA Champions Swim Series in China, as her preparations continue towards the Olympic Games later this year.

The tournament, which is in its second year is invitation only, bringing together the top swimmers from around the world in their respective disciplines.

The 31-year-old Atkinson, who already booked her place at the Tokyo Games last August, will compete in today’s 50m breaststroke at 8:14 a.m. local time and tomorrow’s 100m breaststroke at the Shenzhen Universiade Center Swimming Natatorium in Shenzhen. She believes that the two meet series, which concludes in Beijing this weekend will better assess her level of preparation going into the 2020 Games.

“(The) FINA Champions Swim Series will give me a good indicator of my training going into Tokyo,” Atkinson told The Gleaner.

Each event will consist of four competitor finals. Atkinson will duel against Molly Hannis of United States, Italy’s Martina Carraro and Finland’s Ida Hulkko in today’s event. Hulkko had two wins last season in the FINA Swimming World Cup in the 50m and 100m events.

Atkinson, who will be participating in her fifth consecutive Olympics, says that she is fortunate to still be able to compete at a high level and credits the strong commitment to her craft as key to her success and longevity.

“It has been a privilege to represent my country from the age of 15 at the Olympics. I have also been gifted with a family and sponsors that support and with their help, allowed me to stay in the sport,” she said. “It also helps to have a commitment to yourself through the ups and downs.”

The reigning RJRGLEANER National Sportswoman of the Year says that the focus is towards ensuring that she gets into top form by the start of the Games in July and is motivated by her resilience after last season.

“2019 had a few stumbles and events that didn’t go as planned, but staying the course was my number one objective as I finished the year. My target now is stepping stones going into Tokyo, improving with every step I take,” Atkinson said.

She also believes that maintaining her fitness will be paramount for this campaign.

“The older an athlete gets, the more muscle maintenance is needed,” she added.

Atkinson will be vying for her second consecutive National Sportswoman of the Year award when the gala takes places this Friday at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel. While she will not be present for the ceremony, she feels honoured to be recognised among the best athletes the country has to offer.

“Each time I am nominated or even mentioned among the hardworking and successful Jamaican athletes, I am rejuvenated body and soul,” she said.

She is the lone non-track and field finalist in the nine-woman field.