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Bovell swims for medal, Jamaican Atkinson creates history

By Mark Pouchet

Top Trinidad and Tobago swimmer George Bovell will attempt to gain this country's first Worlds medal in swimming when he splashes into action in the finals of the Men's 50-metre freestyle event this afternoon.

At the FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships in Istanbul, Turkey yesterday, Bovell was the third fastest qualifier after the semi-finals with a 21.09-second swim. T&T's other entrant in the event, Joshua Mc Leod registered a 22.12 clocking to finish 27th overall out of 155 swimmers.

And Jamaican Alia Atkinson also created history yesterday when she powered her way to silver in the Women's 50m breaststroke. It is Jamaica's first medal in swimming at World Championships or Olympic level.

Back on the Men's side, Bovell, the Athens Olympic Bronze medallist, was actually second in semi-final one behind reigning London Olympic champion in the event, France's Florent Manaudou, (20.92) but ahead of US 2000 Olympic champion Anthony Ervin (21.17).

It means that Bovell will swim out of Lane Three in the final next to Manaudou (Lane Four). Russia's Vladimir Morozov will swim out of Lane Five, while Ervin will be in Lane Six. In the second semi-final, Morozov was the only other swimmer faster than Bovell in 20.95 seconds.

Earlier in the morning preliminaries, Bovell was second fastest in heat 15 and fourth fastest overall when he was timed in 21.39. Italy's Marco Orsio won the heat in 21.36, a heat in which Mc Leod finished 7th of nine in 22.12.

Bovell III, who set a new national men's 50m freestyle record of 20.82 in Stockholm in October, had stated his intention to win a medal at the 'Worlds' after his superlative performances during the FINA/ARENA World Cup series that ended last month. There he captured 16 medals (seven gold, nine silver).

On the Women's side, Atkinson posted 29.67 to finish behind Lithuania's Olympic 100m breaststroke gold medallist Ruta Meilutyte in a championship mark of 29.44. Australia's Sarah Katsoulis (29.94) grabbed bronze.

Atkinson rallied off that history-making achievement by being the fastest qualifier for the Women's 100m individual medley (IM) when she blasted to a 58.97 second swim in the second semi-final from Lane One. Atkinson beat China's Jing Zhao (59.12), while Meilutyte won the first semi-final in 59.15 to be the third fastest qualifier for today's final.

Mc Leod and his younger brother Abraham will also be in action today when they compete in the Men's 50m butterfly and Men's 200m breaststroke events respectively. Mc Leod (J) will compete in the 14th and final heat out of Lane Seven, while Abraham will swim out of Lane One in heat five of six.

Bovell will also go after gold in the 100m men's individual medley on Saturday from 5.04 am (TT time). 

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