Alia Atkinson, the first black woman to win a World Championship title, will be honoured with the Order of Distinction in the Rank of Commander (CD) on Jamaica’s National Heroes’ Day on October 15, 2018.
Atkinson, 29, won the 100-metre butterfly at the 2014 Short Course Championships in Doha, becoming the first black woman to do so.
The Olympian said she was humbled to be receiving such an award.
“So proud and humbled to be considered, much less actually be awarded a CD,” she said on social media in reaction to the news.
“Swimming is blossoming once again in Jamaica and I look forward to being a part of the wave of athletes that are paving a path for the Caribbean and swimmers of colour.”
In a later interview with SportsMax TV, Atkinson, who recently won three gold and two bronze medals at the CAC Games in Barranquilla, Colombia, said she never believed she would have achieved such a feat.
“I have always wondered what path my life would take, and I still do. However, I was always told to dream big. I have been told no matter the dream, God will use you and make it incredible.
“In my wildest dreams I did not consider being in the same sentence as this accolade; nonetheless it’s a testament to His promise in Ephesians 3:20; ‘Dream big and He will make your dreams bigger,’” Atkinson said.
She promised to work even harder to lift the sport of swimming and live up to what it means to be awarded the Order of Distinction.
“I just need to keep up. I will work even harder to not only promote swimming in Jamaica and the Caribbean, but also work to change the society and mindset of past generations.
“Athletes can accomplish great things if we use our unique skill set for the betterment of our brothers and sisters. I am tremendously honoured to receive this distinction and I will work to always fulfil its requirements,” Atkinson said.
John Lopez for his contribution to the welfare of people with disabilities in relation to paraplegic sports in Jamaica, is among three others in the sporting arena who will be recognised with the Order of Distinction in the Rank of Officer (OD).
The others are Vishwanauth Tolan, for his work in sports and community development, and Herbert Arthur Ziadie for his contribution to sports, especially golf.