By Sharon Robb
July 27, 2014—Alia Atkinson didn’t hold anything back Sunday at the 20th Commonwealth Games at Tollcross Swimming Centre in Glasgow, Scotland.
The three-time Jamaican Olympian and South Florida Aquatic Club swimmer stormed to the top seed in the 100-meter breaststroke after winning her semifinal heat in a time of 1:06.87, a time that will probably win this event on Monday.
Atkinson’s best time is 1:06.79 from the 2012 London Olympics. She also swam 1:06.86 this past summer.
It will be her third and final attempt at her first gold medal in her third Commonwealth Games appearance. She just missed in the 50-meter breaststroke taking a silver medal and was shut out of a medal in the 200-meter breaststroke.
In her semifinal race, Atkinson, swimming in Lane 4, was quick off the blocks and bolted into the lead with a 31.16 split at the 50. She was off the wall like a rocket and left nothing to chance.
She had a full-body length lead coming into the finish. Her closest rival in the race was Canadian Tara Van Bielen in 1:81.11.
For the fourth day in a row, Australia dominated the night.
In Sunday’s championship finals:
Women’s 200-meter backstroke: Race favorite Belinda Hocking of Australia won in a Games record 2:07.24. Hocking is the only swimmer this year to break 2:08. Aussie teammate Emily Seebohm took silver in 2:08.51 and Canadian Hilary Caldwell took bronze in 2:08.55. Canadian Sinead Russell of University of Florida was eighth in 2:12.61.
Men’s 100-meter freestyle: It was an Aussie sweep in the final. Two-time reigning champion James Magnussen won the gold in 48.11. Cameron McEvoy was second just 0.23 seconds behind his teammate and Tommaso D’Orsogna was third. Dylan Carter, 18, of Trinidad and Tobago and youngest in the final, was fifth in 49.56.
Women’s 200-meter individual medley: Rising British star Siobhan-Marie O’Connor, 18, won her first gold medal in a Games record 2:08.21 to add to her three silver medals. After going out in 27.37 on the opening butterfly leg, she extended her lead to nearly two seconds after the breaststroke. Aussie veteran Alicia Coutts was second in 2:10.30 and former national record holder Hannah Miley was third in 2:10.74. “I am absolutely over the moon,” O’Connor said. “I knew it would be so hard to get a medal because of the strength of the field so I can’t ask for any more.”
Men’s 50-meter backstroke: The Aussies nearly pulled off another sweep going one-two. Ben Treffers won in 24.67 and Mitch Larkin was second in 24.80. England’s Liam Tancock was third in 24.98.
Women’s 50-meter butterfly: Defending champion Fran Halsall of England won her second gold medal of the Games in 25.20, both a Commonwealth and national record. Bahamian and Bolles alum Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace took silver in 25.53. Aussie Brittany Elmslie took bronze in 25.91.
Men’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay: Australia’s relay of Cameron McEvoy, David McKeon, Nick McKendry and Thomas Fraser-Holmes won the gold medal in a Games record 7:07.38. Scotland took the silver in 7:09.18 and South Africa was third in 7:10.36. Singapore was eighth in 7:28.01.
In the men’s 50-meter breaststroke semifinal, Florida State alum Rob Holderness of Wales was fifth in his heat in 28.26.
In the men’s 100-meter butterfly semifinal, Dylan Carter, 18, of Trinidad and Tobago, swimming in Lane 1,
Bolles’ Joseph Schooling of Singapore, who had already qualified for two finals, was second in the 100-meter butterfly semifinal in a national record 52.22, third fastest qualifying time, to make his third final. Zheng Wen Quah of Singapore was eighth in 54.29. Bolles coach Sergio Lopez is coaching the Singapore team.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org