Amateur Swimming Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) President Handel Lamey is throwing full support behind swimming standard bearer Alia Atkinson, whom he is hoping will win her second RJR Sports Foundation National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Award next month.
The prestigious annual awards ceremony will be held on January 13 at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.
In 2015, Atkinson became the first swimmer to win the national award since Belinda Phillips in 1974.
According to Lamey, the only blemish on the 28-year-old national record holder’s performances this year was not medalling at the Olympics.
“I think she is a very strong candidate for this year, being that she has established 100m world record, 50m world record and the only thing is that she did not achieve an Olympic medal. But in terms of performance, she has done exceedingly well,” the ASAJ boss told STAR Sports.
Atkinson, who won three medals at the Short Course (SC) Worlds and broke the 50m breaststroke SC would record, will be looking to upstage double Olympic sprint champion Elaine Thompson for the top award.
Locally, Lamey points to the swimmer’s impact as tremendous, considering Atkinson a household name.
“It’s a big deal for us, considering that she has been the only swimmer in a long time that has had received the award. She is very good to have been nominated on so many occasions and having won it,” he said.
From a sporting association level, the president says the decorated swimmer gives a lot of exposure.
“When you look out there in the winning environment, there aren’t that many black swimmers coming from this region who are participating at that level,” stressed Lamey.