By Sharon Robb
PEMBROKE PINES, January 22, 2019—For the third time in her illustrious swimming career, Alia Atkinson was named the RJRGLEANER Sports Foundation Sportswoman of the Year.
Atkinson, 30, a four-time Olympian, received the award during a banquet at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.
She was honored for her 2018 season that included lowering her own short course meters world record in the 50-meter breaststroke and winning three gold medals at the Central American and Caribbean Games and three gold medals during the FINA World Cup Series.
Atkinson finished ahead of Reggae Girlz striker Khadija (Bunny) Shaw, who would have been the first soccer player to win the award.
Atkinson’s world record was also chosen as the People’s Choice award for Performance of the Year.
“I have faith in my vision for Jamaica’s sports,” Atkinson said during her acceptance speech. “Having a vision is not for the weak of heart. It takes faith to create goals because we are satisfied with the here and now.”
Atkinson was also given the Iconic Award, “in recognition of a career that has not only brought medal success and enriched Jamaica’s sporting culture, but also broke racial and social barriers.”
“Truly, I am speechless over the Iconic Award because that is something I see for mature adults, even though I am, but I think somebody who has done the work, has given their time and effort and has changed the sport. But, when I look back on it, I have.”
Atkinson also told reporters she has no plans of retiring from competitive swimming. She said she will see how much longer she can compete at the elite level.
“Most people see a career as a mountain and when you reach the top, the only way is down,” Atkinson said. “But my mountain is a horizontal mountain, so I have climbed it and have to ride it. There were a few ups and downs along the way, but I am looking to climb it again.”
Jamaican discus thrower and Commonwealth Games gold medalist Frederick Dacres was awarded the Sportsman of the Year award.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com