By Sharon Robb
July 26, 2014—Alia Atkinson of the South Florida Aquatic Club had an off day at the 20th Commonwealth Games and it cost her.
The three-time Jamaican Olympian barely made it into the final of the 200-meter breaststroke qualifying eighth and then finished a disappointing seventh in 2:25.48 Saturday at Tollcross Swimming Centre in Glasgow, Scotland.
Atkinson, 25, was favored to medal in her most improved event since the 2012 London Olympics.
The women’s 200-meter breaststroke was a wide-open race with no clear-cut favorite.
Atkinson was in contention early in the race and seemed to be motivated after having to take a half-stroke to the wall and settling for silver in the 50-meter breaststroke, an event she was favored to win gold.
Atkinson was just .17 seconds behind leader Aussie Taylor McKeown after the first 50 meters and was 1 ½ seconds back in third place at the 150-meter mark.
But then it all unraveled for the experienced swimmer who started tightening up and leaning too close to the lane line to finish out of the medal race. Atkinson was visibly upset after her race.
McKeown won in 2:22.36. Aussie teammate Sally Hunter took silver in 2:23.33 and Brit Molly Renshaw was third in 2:25.00.
Atkinson will have one final shot at gold on Sunday in the 100-meter breaststroke, her third and final event of the Games and her marquis event.
At the midway mark of the swimming competition, powerhouse Australia has won 11 of the 21 gold medals and 15 silver and bronze medals. All but one of Saturday night’s gold medalists would have won a medal at last year’s World Championships had they produced the same times.
In other championship finals:
Men’s 200-meter butterfly: Olympic and world champion Chad Le Clos of South Africa turned on the afterburners in the last 50 meters to defend his title in a meet record 1:55.07 for his first gold medal of the Games. Aussie Grant Irvine took silver in 1:56.34 and South African Sebastien Rousseau of Gator Swim Club took the bronze in 1:56.43. Singapore’s Joseph Schooling of Bolles was eighth in 1:59.09.
Women’s 50-meter freestyle: After an even start, Brit Fran Halsall pulled away to break her own Commonwealth and national record in a textile-best 23.96. Aussie Cate Campbell was second in 24.00 and sister Bronte Campbell was third in 24.20. Bahamian and Bolles alum Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace was fourth in 24.34, fifth fastest time in the world.
Women’s 100-meter backstroke: Defending champion Emily Seebohm of Australia, the pre-race favorite, won in a meet record 59.37; Wales’ Georgia Davies was second in 59.58 and Aussie Belinda Hocking took the bronze in 59.93. Canadian Sinead Russell of University of Florida was sixth in 1:00.27.
Men’s 100-meter breaststroke: Brit teenager Adam Peaty, 19, knocked off world record holder Cameron van der Burgh and broke his own Commonwealth record to win in 58.94. The South African went out fast and had a half-body length in the first half of the race but faded and finished second in 59.28. Ross Murdoch of Scotland was third in 59.47. Former Florida State swimmer Rob Holderness, who finished seventh in the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:12.35, was disqualified in one of his best events.
Women’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay: Australia held off Canada to win another gold medal in 7:49.90 with Emma McKeon, Alicia Coutts, Brittany Elmslie and Bronte Barratt. After a lackluster leg by Coutts, it was Elmslie who put the Aussies back in the lead for good. Canada took silver in 7:51.67 and England was third in 7:52.45. Singapore, coached by Bolles coach Sergio Lopez, was seventh in 8:16.39.
In the women’s 50-meter butterfly semifinals, Singapore’s Tao Li is the fifth seed in 26.33. Bahamian and Bolles alum Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace is the second seed in 25.90.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org