We knew she was a world champion swimmer, but we discovered last Saturday that Alia Atkinson is also a powerful speaker. As she addressed the annual business conference of the GraceKennedy Group, she recounted how she extinguished the notion that swimming “was not for the likes of her”.
With little support at the beginning of her career, Alia made a lonely path up to the finals of the 2012 Olympics and wondered to herself if this was where she would stop, but said she decided to fight on because she did not want to go through life wondering “what if?”
Alia’s response to those who murmured that ‘swimming was not really a black woman’s sport’ was to work even harder, because, she says, “I am very stubborn… I had to believe in myself…I knew what my goals were; and to reach them, I had to try that much harder”.
She said the ones who had a negative attitude towards her were the very ones who motivated her to persevere. “I am a myth-buster,” she declared. “I am on top, and I am a black Jamaican swimmer!”
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