Alia Atkinson Among Jamaicans Sent Packing Early at Olympics

By L Bronson

Jamaica has so far suffered three early eliminations from the ongoing 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games after artistic gymnast Danusia Francis, veteran swimmer Alia Atkinson and rookie swimmer Keanan Dols lost out in early-round action over the past two days.

Francis, who was first Jamaica in action at the delayed Games on Sunday afternoon, entered the competition at the Ariake Gymnasium Center after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee days earlier, which resulted in her almost missing the Games altogether.

However, her life-long dream of becoming an Olympian gave her the belief and courage to ditch three of her four routines just so that she could compete in the one that she felt was easiest in her injured leg and become an Olympian.

She spent nearly 10 seconds on the uneven bars with a heavily strapped left knee before dismounting gently on her right leg. For her effort, she was given a paltry 3.033 points after scoring an embarrassing 0.5 points for difficulty, deducted a further 6.5 points for various violations, but was rewarded with 9.033 points for execution score, the highest of the day on any apparatus.

She thereby finished in eighth place, in her rotation, but was the happiest human being alive at the end.

“Now that it’s over and I’m an Olympian I’m just so proud to say those words and just receiving so many messages of congratulations and support and just hearing how many people are proud of me, had honestly just filled my heart with so much joy and I just feel so loved and proud that I was able to represent Jamaica,” she told the media.

“I am disappointed not to have done the all-round mainly because of the hard work I’ve put in and it’s got me where I’ve wanted to be all my life, so it wasn’t a waste and hopefully there is going to be another time to show off all my hard work. So for now I’ll be excited that I’m an Olympian and not dwell on the negative.”

Francis, who was a reserve gymnast for the UK in 2012, requires surgery and rehab to correct the torn ACL, but she’s hoping to return in time for another crack at the Commonwealth Games.

And a few hours later Atkinson finished a surprising third in her heats of the women’s 100m breaststroke in 1:07.70 at the Tokyo Aquatics Center to fail to make the top 16 which advanced to the semis.

The race was won by Kotryna Teterevkova (1:06.82) of Lithuania, with Germany’s Ana Elenot (1:06.96) next.

Atkinson, a Jamaican swim legend, finished in 22nd position overall, well short of the top 16 places, and the 32-year-old gave more than a hint that she plans to call time on her international career at year’s end.

“If you see me next year then ask me what happened because that’s not the plan right now. I’m going to finish off the rest of the year as I have World Cups and ISL coming up, so we’ll see there, and then in December we probably look at where I am in life,” she said.

Meanwhile, Keanan Dols suffered a similar fate on Monday evening (Monday morning EST) when he could only finish third in the men’s 200m butterfly in 2:00.25 minutes which was not good enough to get him into the top 16.

The race was won by Ayman Kelzi of Syria in 1:59.57 minutes, with Iran’s Martin Balsini second in 1:59.97 minutes.

The debutant Olympian ended 34th overall and will now concentrate on his next assignment on Wednesday when he contests the 200m individual medley.

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1 COMMENT

  1. L. Bronson, that is such a hurtful headline and doesn’t do justice to the years and years of training that these athletes have put into their dream of representing their country. Sure, their dreams were dashed but given the circumstances (covid-19) they did extremely well to even qualify for the greatest show on earth. You should try it sometime.

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