Alia Atkinson of Jamaica grabs gold in a record-making swim
For women in sports, recognition is sometimes hard to come by, despite the many accomplishments of female athletes through the years. In sports like swimming, which aren't as popular for spectators, it can be even more difficult. But yesterday, 25 year-old Alia Atkinson of Jamaica became the first black woman to win a world title in swimming at the FINA World Short Course Championships in Doha, Qatar and people are taking notice.
Atkinson finished the 100m breaststroke with a time of 1 minute and 02.36 seconds, just a tenth of a second ahead of favorited Ruta Meilutyt, who was previously the world record holder in the race. Meilutyt's record time was actually the same as Atkinson's new winning time, but under swimming regulations, the most recent record-setter becomes the title-holder. (Inspired by these female athletes? Get in the water with our 8 Reasons to Start Swimming.)
At first, Atkinson didn't realize she had not only won her race, but also claimed a new world-record title. Her shocked reaction to the win was captured by photographers—and she was all smiles and excitement as she looked up at the results. "Hopefully my face will come out, there will be more popularity especially in Jamaica and the Caribbean and we'll see more of a rise and hopefully in the future we will see a push," she told the Telegraph in an interview. We love seeing women break barriers, stereotypes, and records whether it's in the boardroom or the pool, so we couldn't be happier for Atkinson. (Looking for a motivational boost? Read 5 Empowering Quotes from Successful Women.)
Atkinson, a three-time Olympian, will add this title to her eight other Jamaican national swimming titles. The win is more than just a number for her: Atkinson's mission has always been to place Jamaica on the world map of swimming and improve Caribbean and minority swimming across the world, according to her website. With this latest recognition, she has further strengthened her platform to inspire others.