Late birthday gold for Jamaica’s Swimming champion Alia Atkinson

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SHANGHAI, China (AFP) via Observer — Jamaican star Alia Atkinson celebrated turning 30 by finally winning 50m breaststroke gold at the short course World Swimming Championships on Wednesday.

Atkinson’s landmark birthday was on Tuesday but she had to wait a day to really mark the occasion in imperious style in the Chinese city of Hangzhou.

When it came she lapped the opportunity up as Atkinson, the world record-holder in a 25m pool, stormed to victory in 29.05sec.

It was comfortably short of her world-leading time of 28.56sec, set in October, but was Atkinson’s first 50m gold after three world championship silvers.

I’m really happy to finally get the gold in the 50m,” Atkinson said with a broad smile

“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…”

Meanwhile, the United States started the evening session of day two with a bang, 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 set by the Americans, two years ago.

The United States backed that up with victory for Olympic champion Ryan Murphy in the men’s 100m backstroke, pipping home swimmer Xu Jiayu into silver by 0.03sec and putting the US into the early lead in the medals table with four golds overall.

Four became five for the Americans when Blake Pieroni, out in lane eight, took victory in the men’s 200m freestyle.

On Tuesday, the first day of action, the US men — with Pieroni on the second leg — set a new world record in the 4x100m freestyle.

Katinka Hosszu, a triple gold medallist at the 2016 Rio Olympics, grabbed her second gold in Hangzhou as the Hungarian triumphed in the women’s 200m butterfly.

Dubbed the “Iron Lady”, Hosszu dominated the short course world championships two years ago in Canada, carrying home seven golds.

But she was shocked in the 100m backstroke, forced into second by Olivia Smoliga to underline the United States’ superiority.

The all-powerful Americans made it a fifth gold out of eight up for grabs on the day when they triumphed in the mixed 4x50m freestyle in another world-record time.


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