WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
October 6, 2010
Two-time Olympian Alia Atkinson of the South Florida Aquatic Club will race in her final event Thursday at the 19th Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India.
Atkinson, 21, representing Jamaica, will compete in her fourth and final event in the 100-meter breaststroke. She will swim in the third of six heats at the Dr. SPM Aquatics Complex in Talkatora Gardens.
On Wednesday, Atkinson just missed making her second final of the Games. She was fourth in her heat in 2:34.32 but failed to advance into the finals. She was tenth fastest among a field of 17 breaststrokers. Her splits were 36.01, 1:15.16 and 1:54.48.
Earlier in the week, Atkinson finished eighth in the 50-meter breaststroke and broke her national record twice (32.24 and 32.13). She was also 12th in the 200-meter individual medley (2:24.39).
“It’s been a pretty decent meet,” Atkinson said. “It’s kind of been up and down in terms of results. I am definitely looking forward to doing well in my last event.”
Australia’s Leisel Jones captured her third straight 200 breaststroke title in the in 2:25.38, defending her previous victories in 2002 and 2006. Aussie teammate Tessa Wallace was second in 2:25.60 and Sarah Katsoulis completed the Aussie sweep with a third-place 2:25.92.
It was just part of the Aussies’ domination on the medal stand during the third day of finals. On Wednesday, Australia won six of the nine gold medals up for grabs including the women’s breaststroke.
In the men’s 50-meter butterfly, Jason Dunford became the first swimmer from Kenya to win a gold medal in 23.35 and moved into sixth place in the world rankings. Dunford and his brother David have been the only Kenyans to ever make a final in any event. Dunford is coached by Andrea Di Nino in Italy. Di Nino worked with SOFLO and six-time Olympic coach Michael Lohberg at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex for more than two years and learned his lessons well working with several international swimmers and Lohberg.
Aussie Geoff Huegill, 31, who came out of retirement and battled back from depression and weight problem, took silver in 23.37. South Africa’s Roland Schoeman was third in 23.44.
In the men’s 200-meter backstroke, England’s James Goddard started off the night’s competition with a meet record 1:55.58 to win a gold medal. The previous record was 1:58.65. Lanky teenager Gareth Kean, 19, who nearly drowned when he was 2 at a school pool, won New Zealand’s first medal with a second place finish in a season-best 1:57.37. He was seeded eighth going into the final. Kean was coming off a double gold medal performance at Junior Pan Pacs. Aussie Ashley Delaney took bronze in 1:58.18.
Aussie Alicia Coutts won her second gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle. After swimming the fastest time in a textile suit in the 200 individual medley on opening day, she came back with a 54.09. Teammate Emily Seebohm took silver in 54.30 and England’s Fran Halsall took bronze in 54.57.
In the men’s 50-meter butterfly, Jason Dunford became the first swimmer from Kenya to win a gold medal in 23.35 and moved into sixth place in the world rankings. Only Dunford and his brother David were the only Kenyans to make a final. Dunford is coached by Andrea Di Nino in Italy.
Aussie Geoff Huegill, who came out of retirement and battled back from depression and weight problem, took silver in 23.37. South Africa’s Roland Schoeman was third in 23.44.
Aussie Emily Seebohm became the first woman in Commonwealth Games history to crack the minute barrier in a meet record 59.79. England’s Gemma Spofforth of the University of Florida finished second in 1:00.02 and Canadian Julia Wilkinson was third in 1:00.74.
South Africa’s Cameron Van der Burgh won the men’s 100-meter breaststroke in a meet record 1:00.10. Christian Sprenger, the fastest qualifier, was second in 1:00.29 and Aussie Brenton Rickard,world record holder in a high-tech suit (58.58) was third in 1:00.46.
Australia swept the men’s (7:10.29) and women’s (7:53.71) 800-meter freestyle relays in meet records.
In the men’s ParaSport 50-meter freestyle, Aussie Matthew Cowdrey broke his own world record of 25.34 in 25.33 to win.
Australia leads in the overall medal count with 46 (21 gold, 15 silver, 10 bronze) followed by England (26), India (25) and Canada (11). In swimming, the Aussies lead with 25 total medals followed by England (10) and South Africa with five. Canada, expected to shine, has only four.
In other Games news, Delhi Belly seems to be going around the Athletes’ Village, swimming, hockey and gymnastic venues.
Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, chills and weakness. England’s contingent has been hit the hardest with about 40 athletes being stricken. Halsall, one of the team’s top swimmers and 50-meter butterfly gold medalist, was hit by the bug and nearly fainted on the pool deck after failing to qualify for the 100 meter butterfly final.
“Most of us girls have it,” said Brit swimmer Rebecca Adlington. “You don’t feel bad in itself, it’s just that I can’t eat and I am going to the toilet every couple of minutes. It could be a lot worse.”
It was worse for Aussie medal hopeful Robert Hurley who was forced to withdraw from the Games and return home because of an intestinal ailment and exhaustion.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com.