Alia Atkinson wins gold, becomes first black woman to win world title in swimming

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Doha, Qatar — Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania was favored to win the Women’s 100m Breaststroke Final at the FINA World Swimming Championships, but Alia Atkinson of Jamaica pulled a huge upset. Atkinson is the first black woman to win a world title in swimming.

Meilutyte had the lead and was looking like she was going to win another gold until Atkinson came on with a late surge.  

“I realized I was catching up, so I was just trying to get a good finish,” she told the official FINA website. She finished strong and beat Meilutyte by 0.1 seconds, matching the Lithuanian’s world best world.

This is also Jamaica’s first gold medal in a swimming championship. The first black woman to ever hold a world record in swimming was Enith Brigitha of Netherlands, four decades ago. She won two bronze medals in the 1976 Montreal Olympics and four more bronze medals in the 1973 and 1975 world championships.

Atkinson is no doubt building on her legacy.