Jamaican Swimming Star First Black Woman to Hold World Title
DOHA, Qatar – Jamaican star Alia Atkinson wrote her name in history here Saturday, storming to victory in the 100m breaststroke in world record time at the World Short-course Championships, to become the first Black woman to hold a global title.
The 25-year-old stunned defending champion and world record holder, Ruta Meilutyte, touching the wall first in a time of one minute, 2.36 seconds.
Meilutyte was timed at 1:02.46, missing out on becoming the first woman to successfully defend the 100m breaststroke title.
Moniek Nijhuis of the Netherlands clocked 1:04.03 to take bronze.
Atkinson’s time also shattered the championship record of 1:02.43 set by Meilutyte during Friday’s semi-finals.
“I couldn’t believe it! It came down to the same thing as the 50 and on the 50 I got out-touched so in my mind I went straight back to that,” said Atkinson, who celebrates her 26th birthday next Thursday.
“I just thought ‘oh okay’ and looked up at the board and it didn’t really click yet and then it really started to click. It took a while!”
Meilutyte looked the favorite to successfully defend her title when she took an early lead with Atkinson in strong pursuit, and was ahead at the half-way point.
However, Atkinson closed quickly off the final turn and just got up in time to beat Meilutyte, to create the upset.
Atkinson is a three-time Olympian and was good enough to finish fourth in the 100m breaststroke at London 2012 in a time of 1:06.93.