Atkinson Breaks Own National Record, Just Misses Medal On Day Three Of Pan American Games

Atkinson Breaks Own National Record, Just Misses Medal On Day Three Of Pan American Games

October 17, 2011


Alia Atkinson posted back-to-back national records and career-bests for the second time in three days and just missed a medal at the XVI Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.

SOFLO’s two-time Olympian for Jamaica went out fast to take the early lead in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke final and got out-touched to finish fourth in 1:09.11 at the Scotiabank Aquatic Center.

Atkinson, 22, swam the two fastest 50-meter splits of the event, 32.22 in morning prelims and 31.41 in the final. Atkinson was unshaved in prelims and shaved for finals.

In the prelims, Atkinson, 22, broke her own national record in the second heat when she clocked 1:09.28, the third fastest qualifying time. She shaved 0.63 hundredths of a second off the 1:09.91 she set at the Sette Colli International Meet in Italy in June.

Atkinson, the most experienced among the top qualifiers, came roaring back in the final with an opening 31.41 and came home in 37.70.

Americans Annie Chandler (1:07.90) and Ashley Wanland (1:08.55) finished 1-2 in the 100-meter breaststroke and Canadian Ashley McGregor was third in 1:08.96. Chandler had an eight-inch height advantage over the field. St. Thomas Aquinas alum Daniela Victoria of Venezuela and Davie Nadadores was third in the “B” final in 1:12.31.

On Sunday, Atkinson bettered her national record and career-best in the 100-meter butterfly twice to open the meet.

Atkinson has the 200-meter individual medley on Tuesday and 100-meter breaststroke on Thursday remaining during her second Pan American Games appearance. She may only swim morning prelims in the 200 IM to rest for the 200 breaststroke.

On a rollercoaster of a night where controversy stole the spotlight and delayed Atkinson’s race for a protest from the Brazilian delegation over the men’s 200-meter butterfly, the United States and Brazil continued to dominate the medal stand.

Brazil’s Leonardo De Deus was disqualified after winning the men’s 200-meter butterfly for wearing a Yakult sponsor logo on his cap. Yakult, a major sponsor in swimming,  is a Japanese probiotic fermented dairy product.

After De Deus celebrated, leaned on the side of the pool in prayer and hugged his coach, Brazilian officials asked De Deus for his cap as he left the pool deck. Five minutes later, he was disqualified and new results were posted on the scoreboard to a chorus of boos.

While the rule clearly states no commercial logos other than the apparel manufacturer can be worn, De Deus’ disqualification was reversed by the PASO executive committee.

Despite what the rule states, proper pre-race protocol of checking caps, suits and warm-ups was not carried out, thus reversing the disqualification.

After some heated discussion from the Brazilian delegation that included coaches blocking the medal ceremony, De Deus was awarded the gold medal after winning in 1:57.92 leaving American Dan Madwed with the silver (1:58.52) and Brazilian Kaio Almeida (1:58.78) with the bronze. Officials apologized to De Deus and the crowd gave him a standing ovation.

The controversy was trending world-wide on Twitter particularly among the swimming world including Brazilian teammate Cesar Cielo and American Ricky Berens.

In other championship finals:

Women’s 400-meter freestyle: American Gillian Ryan came from behind and put on a late surge to nip Venezuela’s Andreina Pinto, 4:11.58 to 4:11.81. Her final 50-meter split was 30.07.

Men’s 100-meter backstroke: Thiago Pereira finished off an emotional night for Brazil winning the gold medal in 54.56. He moved up from fourth place after the turn. American Eugene Godsoe took silver in 54.61 and Brazilian Guilherme Guido took bronze in 54.81.

In other notable races:

The Davie Nadadores won their first medal at a major international meet when Felipe Lima of Brazil took the silver medal in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:00.99. Davie teammates Daniele Tirabassi of Venezuela took a bronze medal as a member of the 4×100-meter freestyle relay. Sagemont freshman Jordy Groters broke the Aruba national record in the 100-meter breaststroke in a time trial in 1:06.45.

Florida State’s Mateo De Angulo of Colombia was 11th in the 1500-meter

freestyle men’s prelims in 16:10.45 and teammate Alicia Lightbourne of the Bahamas was seventh in her heat in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:15.66.

Florida Gulf Coast freshman Karen Vilorio, representing Honduras, broke the national record in the 100-meter backstroke. She was 18th in a

lifetime-best 1:07.06, dropping her own mark by almost a second. Vilorio was administered oxygen after the race to help her recover and reduce altitude headaches. She will compete Thursday in the 200-meter backstroke. Teammate Danielle Beaubrun of St. Lucia won the “B” final of the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:10.63.

The swimmers are competing in high altitude, 2,400 feet above sea level.

Team USA has 20 medals (eight gold, eight silver and four bronze) and Brazil has 12 medals (six gold, four silver and two bronze).

FINA/ARENA World Cup Series

Superstar Michael Phelps and rising star Missy Franklin will make their first appearance at the FINA/Arena World Cup Series’ third stop in Moscow on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Phelps is entered in six events: the 100-meter freestyle, 200-meter freestyle, 200-meter backstroke, 100-meter butterfly, 200-meter butterfly and 100-meter individual medley.

Franklin will swim the 100- and 200-meter freestyles and 100- and 200-meter backstroke events. Phelps is gauging his heavy training and Franklin is focusing on events she will probably swim at the Olympic trials.

Sharon Robb can be reached at