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January 17, 2013
Star Sport


Atkinson deserves the money

Alia Atkinson ... winning the women's 200m breaststroke at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico last year. - file

As the Government makes the final steps towards fulfilling a promise made to Jamaican swimming star Alia Atkinson, the 24-year-old has moved to defend the decision made to fund her $20-million 2016 Olympics training programme.

Following a fourth-place, national record-smashing performance in the 100m breaststroke at last year's Olympic Games in London, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller assured that the Government will help to fund Atkinson's training expenses. Some have questioned the prudence of Simpson Miller's pledge, calling instead for greater focus and support towards the island's youth talent through the implementation of proper programmes and structure.

Atkinson, who had brief discussions with Simpson Miller and Minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for sport, Natalie Neita Headley, after the recent RJR Sports Foundation National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards, said that Simpson Miller expressed surprise that things weren't already in place for the funding.

"She (Simpson Miller) was surprised that she hadn't heard anything from her staff, so she said she would look into it again and the minister of sport said that she would look into it, so definitely they confirmed that they did have a plan of support and they were surprised it hadn't come through as yet," Atkinson said.

"I always had hope in the Government, I believed what the Prime Minister had said. I just hoped that it would come at a decent time and apparently it will," Atkinson added.

"This is when I start back training and all of that, so hopefully I can see what she was saying and actually get the funding."

The 2012 National Sportswoman of the Year runner-up supported the call for youth development, but believes she has done enough to warrant support from the country.

"I don't believe that everything should go to one swimmer, but then again the accolades that I achieve also help, Jamaica put them on the map and then the Jamaica Swimming (Amateur Swimming Association of Jamaica) should be starting up with the youth swimming such as Youth World Championships and building their programme as well," said Atkinson.

"Also, all the experience that I get I can always come back and help with the clinics and teach the younger swimmers how to improve from all the experience that I earn and actually pass it on," she added.

- A.L.

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