'We are still proud of Alia'
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil:
President of the Amateur Swimming Association of Jamaica, Handel Lamey, says he remains extremely proud of two-time Olympic finalist Alia Atkinson despite her eighth place finish at in the 100 metres breaststroke final at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on Monday night.
Lamey, who admitted that much of what the association is trying to accomplish in terms of appeal revolves around Atkinson's profile and performances, isn't expecting the result to have any effect.
Atkinson came into the championships with medal ambitions after a strong couple build up, which includes tying the short course world record and winning gold and silver at the 2014 Short Course World Championships and the Long Course World Championships in 2015 respectively.
Normally very quick off the blocks and over the first 50m, Atkinson was the last to touch the water and eventually finished in a surprising 1:08.10 as American Lilly King took gold in 1:04.93 for a new Olympic record.
Second place went to Russian Yulia Efimova, 1:05.50 with another American Katie Meili 1:05.69 getting the bronze.
"I'm still very happy for her, she did her best, the results are there," said Lamey. "Mentally I don't know what really happened in the race, only she can tell us that."
Atkinson has not spoken publicly since the event but did express gratitude for the outpouring of support she has been receiving before and after the result through her social media pages.
"Not what I expected but this is by far not the end. Thanks for your continuous support and positive outpouring of love... Jamaicans to the world," her message read.
"It certainly won't affect the programme. We know that her performance level is up there with the very best in the world we know she has a world record and we know what her potential is. It was just a bad day," Lamey added.
"She did her best, we are grateful she was in the final and that was a significant achievement," Lamey noted.
Atkinson had also qualified to the final at the London 2012 Games, where she finished fourth.