Birthday girl Atkinson is no longer bridesmaid

Alia Atkinson of Jamaica on her way to the 50m breaststroke gold in Hangzhou last night. It was her first 50m title at the short course World Swimming Championships after three silvers.
Alia Atkinson of Jamaica on her way to the 50m breaststroke gold in Hangzhou last night. It was her first 50m title at the short course World Swimming Championships after three silvers.PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI • It was a belated birthday present but a welcome one nonetheless for Jamaica's Alia Atkinson after she finally won the 50m breaststroke gold at the short course World Swimming Championships yesterday.

Her 30th birthday was on Tuesday, but she had to wait a day to mark the occasion in imperious style in Hangzhou, China.

The world-record holder in a 25m pool stormed to victory in 29.05sec for her first 50m gold after three world silvers.

"I'm really happy to finally get the gold in the 50m," said Atkinson, who fell short of her world-leading time of 28.56 set in October during the World Cup tour.

"There's a lot of stereotypes about age, and I just turned 30, so it's really cool to see the 30-year-olds still able to do it."

Like Atkinson, the United States started the evening session of day two in similarly dominating fashion, setting a new short-course world record in the women's 4x50m medley relay.

Their scorching time of 1:42.38 smashed the previous best time of 1:43.27, also held by them, two years ago.

Olympic champion Ryan Murphy gave the Americans more reason to cheer with victory in the men's 100m backstroke, pipping China's Xu Jiayu by 0.03sec with his 49.23 timing and putting the US into the lead in the medals table with four golds.

Four became five for the Americans when Blake Pieroni powered to victory in the men's 200m freestyle in 1:41.49.

Katinka Hosszu, a triple gold medallist at the 2016 Rio Olympics, grabbed her second gold at the meet as the Hungarian triumphed in the 200m butterfly in 2:01.60.

However, she suffered an upset in the 100m backstroke when she finished 0.07sec behind Olivia Smoliga (56.19), underlining the Americans' superiority.

The US made it a seventh gold overall after coming in first in the mixed 4x50m freestyle in a world record of 1:27.89.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WORLD C'SHIPS (SHORT COURSE)

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 13, 2018, with the headline 'Birthday girl Atkinson is no longer bridesmaid'. Print Edition | Subscribe