By Sharon Robb
September 25, 2015—Three-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson of South Florida Aquatic Club won a gold medal on opening day of the FINA/Airweave World Cup in Hong Kong.
Atkinson, 26, won the 100-meter breaststroke without having to push the pace at the Victoria Park Swimming Pool.
Atkinson won in 1:07.91 against a slow, lackluster field and pocketed $1,500. Russia’s Vitalina Simonova took silver in 1:09.63 and China’s Lui Xiaoyu grabbed the bronze in 1:09.87. Atkinson was the only star breaststroker in the women’s field.
Atkinson is ranked fourth in the world in her signature event in 1:06.21. Atkinson is training through the meet. With her two wins during the first cluster, Atkinson has won $4,500.
Hungarian Katinka Hosszu, three-time defending World Cup champion, stole the spotlight on Day One. The Iron Lady competed in six events, winning five golds and one bronze medal.
In Friday’s championship finals:
Katsumi Nakamura of Japan won the 100-meter freestyle in 49.48 just ahead of Aussie Kenneth To in 49.52. To is coming off back surgery. The field was missing several top swimmers including Chad Le Clos of South Africa and Mehdy Metella of France.
Hosszu won her first gold medal in the 200-meter freestyle in 1:55.81, her fastest time of the year. Missy Franklin took the silver in 1:58.38.
South African Cameron Van der Burgh won the 50-meter breaststroke in 27.23. It was his 35th
gold medal at a World Cup meet.
Hosszu won her second event in the 100-meter butterfly in 59.31 just 30 minutes after her first race.
Japan’s Yuki Shirai won the men’s 100-meter backstroke in 54.39.
Aussie world champion Emily Seebohm won the 50-meter backstroke in 27.90, the only swimmer under 28 seconds. Hosszu took a bronze in 28.49 and Franklin was fifth in 28.87.
Japan’s Masato Sakai won the 200-meter butterfly in 1:56.25.
Hosszu won the third gold medal of the night and 23rd World Cup gold in the 200-meter individual medley in 2:11.78. It was also her 17th consecutive World Cup win in the event.
Aussie Dan Smith won the 400-meter freestyle in 3:52.68.
In the battle of the Campbell sisters, Aussie Cate Campbell won the 50-meter freestyle in 24.60 just touching out sister Bronte in 24.94.
Akihiro Yamaguchi of Japan won the 200-meter breaststroke in the most exciting race of the night. Yamaguchi won in 2:13.13 just 1/100th of a second ahead of countryman Ippei Watanabe.
Hosszu won her fourth gold medal against a stacked field in 2:08.61 in the 200-meter backstroke. Seebohm took silver in 2:09.77 and Franklin settled for the bronze in 2:11.23. Franklin has now lost more 200 backstroke races this year than in all the previous years of her career combined.
Japan took another gold medal in the 50-meter butterfly with Geoff Cheah, coming off a long layoff, took gold in 24.23.
Hosszu won her fifth and final gold medal in the 800-meter freestyle in 8:42.88.
Hungarian David Verraszto won the 400-meter individual medley in 4:18.06.
The second cluster of the 2015 FINA/Airweave World Cup is Sept. 25-26 in Hong Kong, Sept. 29-30 in Beijing and Oct. 3-4 in Singapore where Atkinson, Colorado.
The full eight-leg World Cup is being held in long course leading up to the 2016 Rio Olympics to attract a larger entry of star swimmers but officials and sponsors said the plan backfired since several world-class swimmers opted not to compete.
The second day of the Hong Kong leg is Saturday with prelims at 9:30 p.m. and finals at 6 a.m. EST. The action is being live-streamed for free on FINAtv.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org