Skip to main content

Black swimmer makes history at world championships

By Paul Gittings, CNN
updated 4:56 PM EST, Sun December 7, 2014
A look of disbelief is etched on the face of <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/07/sport/swimming-atkinson-world-first/index.html' target='_blank'>Alia Atkinson after she claims gold in the women's 100m breaststroke </a>at the world short course swimming championships in Qatar. The win made her the first black woman swimmer to claim the world title. Click through the gallery for more female sports firsts: A look of disbelief is etched on the face of Alia Atkinson after she claims gold in the women's 100m breaststroke at the world short course swimming championships in Qatar. The win made her the first black woman swimmer to claim the world title. Click through the gallery for more female sports firsts:
HIDE CAPTION
Women sports pioneers
Women sports pioneers
Women sports pioneers
Women sports pioneers
Women sports pioneers
Women sports pioneers
Women sports pioneers
Women sports pioneers
Women sports pioneers
Women sports pioneers
Women sports pioneers
Women sports pioneers
Women sports pioneers
Women sports pioneers
Women sports pioneers
Women sports pioneers
Women sports pioneers
Women sports pioneers
Women sports pioneers
Women sports pioneers
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Alia Atkinson of Jamaica wins gold medal at swimming world championships
  • Atkinson takes 100m breaststroke title at short course champs in Doha
  • Equals world record for the distance held by Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte
  • First black woman swimmer to claim world title

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- The look of total surprise on her face said it all.

Alia Atkinson went into the final of the 100m breaststroke at the world short course swimming championships very much as the second favorite to Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania.

But in a big upset the 25-year-old from Jamaica snatched victory on the final stroke from Meilutyte and with it made swimming history.

Not only had she equaled Meiluyte's world best but also became the first swimmer black woman to claim a world title in the pool.

"I realized I was catching up so I was just trying to get a good finish," she told the official FINA website.

"I'm not used to seeing my name up in number one so it was kind of a shock, but a good one!"

17-year-old Meilutyte, who trains in England, had led going down the final length of the 25-meter pool, looking set to complete the 50-100m double, until Atkinson's late charge.

The winning time of one minute 2.36 seconds left Atkinson 0.1 seconds ahead of her great rival, who claimed gold over 100m at the London Olympics.

Atkinson, who was fourth in that final, has been steadily improving since claiming gold for Texas A&M at the 2010 NCAA championships.

It was also Jamaica's first ever gold in world swimming championships and Atkinson had come close in the 50m final, losing out to Meilutyte on the touch.

The first black woman to hold a world record in the pool was Enith Brigitha of the Netherlands, some 40 years ago.

Brigitha also took bronze medals behind two East German winners in both the 100 and 200m freestyle events at the 1976 Montreal Olympics and won four bronze medals in the 1973 and 1975 world championships.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:38 AM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Click through our gallery of the most dramatic moments from the world of sport.
updated 12:06 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Whisper it quietly, but after years of foreign domination the prospect of a French winner of the Tour de France is more than just a mere pipe dream.
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Seven years ago Steve Way was a 20 per day smoker and weighed a hefty 104 kg, but he led the marathon at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
After just one day of competition, a new sport has emerged at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow: snapping selfies with the Queen.
updated 4:48 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Inspirational cyclist Joanna Rowsell added another gold to her growing collection in the individual pursuit at the Commonwealth Games.
updated 12:04 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
At the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, an actor upstaged the Queen by kissing a male dancer.
updated 8:00 AM EDT, Wed May 7, 2014
Of course not. But former Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed seems to think the removal of Michael Jackson's statue was a very "bad" idea.
updated 12:36 PM EDT, Wed May 7, 2014
Second-tier French side Clermont Foot appoint Helena Costa -- the country's first ever professional female coach of a male team.
updated 1:33 PM EDT, Fri April 25, 2014
The All Blacks and their fans are focused on one thing, says Dan Carter: becoming the first rugby nation to win back-to-back World Cups.
updated 9:08 AM EDT, Fri April 4, 2014
The 2002 bomb attacks in Bali had many victims -- including a touring rugby team from Hong Kong.
Photographer Danny Lyon spent three days with Muhammad Ali in 1972 and shares his best photos and memories of the champ.
updated 7:54 AM EST, Tue February 25, 2014
With a growing audience boosted by the drama of ice hockey on show in Sochi at the Winter Olympics, can the sport capitalize on its popularity?
updated 6:25 AM EST, Mon January 20, 2014
Her paintings may sell for thousands of dollars, but she is best known for a modeling shot 50 years ago that helped launch a business empire.
ADVERTISEMENT