By Sharon Robb
December 10, 2014—South Florida Aquatic Club’s Alia Atkinson was honored by Speedo after her world record performance at last week’s 12th FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships in Doha, Qatar.
The three-time Jamaican Olympian became the first black swimmer to break a world record and first Jamaican to win a gold medal at world championships.
Atkinson out-touched reigning Olympic and defending champion Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania to win the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:02.36, also a meet record which Meilutyte had broken the day before in 1:02.43.
Meilutyte, 17, has held the world record since 2012 and now shares it with Atkinson, who has now beaten the teenager three times in the last two months.
It was also a Jamaican national record for Atkinson bettering her previous best of 1:02.54.
Atkinson, a Speedo-sponsored elite athlete, is a leading candidate for Jamaica’s Sportswoman of the Year which will be announced later this month.
Enith Brigitha, born on the West Indian island of of Curacao, represented the Netherlands was the first black swimmer to win an Olympic medal (bronze in the 100-meter freestyle) at the 1976 Summer Olympics.
Atkinson’s post-race photos of her surprised reaction after breaking the world record and winning a gold medal has been used worldwide in newspapers, websites and television broadcasts.
Tumblr also paid tribute to Atkinson. The popular social media platform used her picture as one of the site’s background photo images to its welcome page.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com