WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
October 7, 2010
Alia Atkinson of the South Florida Aquatic Club ended her second career appearance at the Commonwealth Games on Thursday in Delhi, India.
The two-time Olympian representing Jamaica finished 11th in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:11.28 at the Dr. S.P. Mukherjee Aquatics Complex in Talkatora Gardens. Her prelim time was 1:11.47. The top qualifying time was 1:07.73 by Aussie Leisel Jones.
Atkinson, 21, competed in four events. Her best finish was eighth in the 50-meter breaststroke where she broke her national record twice (32.24 and 32.13). It was her first championship final in a major international swim meet.
She was also tenth in the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:34.32 and 12th in the 200-meter individual medley (2:24.39).
In Thursday’s championship finals:
Aussie Alicia Coutts won her third gold medal of the Games. Despite an ailing shoulder, the 23-year-old won the 100-meter butterfly in 57.53. She also won gold in the 200-meter individual medley and 100-meter freestyle. England’s Ellen Gandy took silver in 58.06 and Olympian Jemma Lowe of Wales and University of Florida took bronze in 58.42.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Coutts said. “I didn’t think I would get one gold let alone three. I’m stoked.”
Rebecca Adlington of England, shook off a case of Delhi Belly to win the 800-meter freestyle in 8:24.69. Adlington came close to breaking the oldest meet record that was set in 1978.
Adlington, 21, the world record holder and double Olympic champion, had stomach problems before the race. She looked strong early in the race but seemed to tire in the late stages.
“I just wanted to get out there and swim my own race,” Adlington said. “It’s not about the times here at all with all the stuff that is going on and everybody is a bit slow. I am so pleased with this win. I wasn’t feeling that good. It’s been a long season so it’s nice to finish off with a gold.”
South Africa’s Wendy Trott was second in the 800 in 8:26.96 and Aussie Melissa Gorman was third in 8:32.37.
Teenager Chad Le Clos, 18, of South Africa won his second gold in the men’s 400-meter individual medley in a meet record 4:13.25. He is the first South African to win the event in Games history. He also won the 200-meter butterfly earlier in the week.
“What an amazing experience,” Le Clos said. “I have been wanting to produce a personal best for a year now and to do it here at the Commonwealth Games makes me really happy.”
England’s Joseph Roebuck took silver in 4:15.84 and South African Riaan Schoeman took bronze in 4:16.86.
Canadian Brent Hayden broke his own meet record in the 100-meter freestyle he set in the heats by 0.20 seconds to 47.98. The 2007 world champion is the first swimmer in the world this year in a textile suit to break 48 seconds. It was also his first gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. Canada has only five medals at the Games.
England’s Simon Burnett took silver in 48.54 and Aussie Eamon Sullivan took bronze in 48.69
Tonga’s lone swimmer, Amini Fonua, qualified in the seventh spot for the finals of the men’s 50-meter breaststroke. The Texas A&M junior is Tonga’s first Commonwealth Games swimmer since 1946.
In other Games news, concerns over the water quality in the warm-up pool was raised since more than 50 swimmers have been stricken ill since the opening of the Games.
Adlington was one of the swimmers from England and Australia who complained of illness. Aussie Andrew Lauterstein, a medal favorite in the 100-meter butterfly, was forced to withdraw from the heats after missing the 50-meter butterfly final with stomach problems. Teammate Hayden Stoeckel also dropped out of the 100-meter backstroke for the same reason.
Commonwealth Games chief Mike Fennell asked for an immediate inquiry over the water quality concerns. The problem seems to be isolated to swimming since no other athletes at the Games have been affected. Also the toilets at the aquatic center have not been functioning properly because of the lack of water supply which may be adding to the problem.
“If the water is unsafe then clearly you can’t swim in it,” Fennell told reporters. “We have ensured the water and food quality is tested. We are concerned if athletes can’t perform to their best.”
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.