Atkinson still in medal contention
Jamaica swimmer Alia Atkinson was the only bright spark for Caribbean swimmers last night as she secured a place in the final of the women’s 100m breaststroke event with a controlled performance at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio.
A late race surge saw Atkinson clock 1:06.52 to finish third in semi-final two and secure her overall position as the sixth fastest qualifier.
The race was won by in-form American Lilly King who clocked 1:05.70, ahead of Shi Jinglin (1:06.31) and Katie Meili who clocked an identical time to Atkinson.
In the semi-final one, the slower of the two on the night, Russian Yulia Efimova clocked 1:05.72 to claim her spot, with Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte taking second spot in 1:06.44. The two were the only ones to qualify from heat one to qualify.
The 27-year-old Atkinson, who narrowly missed out on a medal spot at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, will look to not only be the first Jamaican to medal in the event, but also just the second for the country outside of athletics.
Another Caribbean athlete in the breaststroke, Izzy Shne Joachim of St Vincent and the Grenadines, failed to advance to the next round after fishing 7th in Heat 2 with a time of 1:17.37.
Jamaica’s Timothy Wynter finished second behind Merdan Atayev of Turkmenistan in Heat 1 of the men’s 100m backstroke, but his time of 57.20 was also not enough to advance to the next round. Atayev took the event in 56.34.
There was also disappointment for Antigua and Barbuda’s Noah Mascoll-Gomes who clocked 1:53.16 in Heat 1 of the men’s 200m freestyle for fifth place, one ahead of Aruba’s Mikel Schreuders who finished in 1:55.10.
Lara Butler of The Cayman Island’s also managed fifth place in Heat 2 of the women’s 100m backstroke in 1:04.21, one place ahead of the USVI’s Caylee Watson who clocked 1:07.19.
Joanna Evans of the Cayman Islands secured second spot in the women’s 400m freestyle in 4:07.60, with Lani Cabrera of Barbados placing sixth.
Evans will continue competition next week in the women’s 200m freestyle, and women’s 800m freestyle.