'Still one of the greatest' - Atkinson's legacy not tarnished by failure to win Olympic medal Featured

By Sports Desk July 31, 2021 789

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson never quite achieved her dream of standing on the Olympic podium, but her persistence, determination, and grace over five Olympic Games will be inspiration worth more than its weight in gold to future generations.

The athlete’s sojourn at the Games, which began as a 14-year-old high schooler at the 2004 Atlanta Olympics, ended last week after she failed to advance from the heats of the 100m breaststroke.

It wasn’t the fairytale ending that most would have wanted, especially considering the fact that Atkinson had come so close to achieving her dream eight years ago.  It was at the 2012 Olympics, that she seemed destined to finally adorn herself with elusive Olympic precious metal, only to narrowly miss out on the medals after finishing fourth in the 100m Breaststroke.

Despite never quite managing to take that final step, however, very few would consider the swimmer’s Olympic career to be one where she failed.  Missing out on the medal podium will never stain her legacy. 

A quick look at the swimmer's CV shows that she has put together quite an accomplished career, which includes a long list of firsts.

In 2014, she became the first black woman to hold a world record in swimming after clocking 1:02.36 in the short course 100-metre breaststroke, tying the world record in the event.

 In 2016, Atkinson set a new world record in the short course 50-metre breaststroke. Two years later, in 2018, she broke her own record in the short course 50-metre breaststroke. She is also the first Afro-Jamaican to win a world title in swimming.  Overall, she has earned 12 World Championship medals, four of which have been gold. 

Those accomplishments, however, only tells half of the story.  The second, perhaps more critical, part of her legacy is what she has meant to a new generation of swimmers that have closely studied her every accomplishment.

Even among her peers, Atkinson, ever the stateswoman, has courted admiration and respect in every corner of the sport and much wider society.  That was quite obvious based on the outpouring of support, thanks, and congratulations that poured in once she had announced the decision to call time on her Olympic career.  So, while she may never have stood on any of the three official blocks of honour, Atkinson has been elevated much higher than many who have had the privilege.

 

 

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Last modified on Saturday, 31 July 2021 10:36

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