WATCH: Tatjana Schoenmaker and SA react to record-breaking win
SA swimmer Tatjane Schoenmaker smashed a seven-year-old record on her way to winning the country’s first gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
South African swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker smashed a world record on her way to picking up the country’s first gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday, 30 July. When she realised she had broken the record for the women’s 200-metre breaststroke her eyes welled with tears and her competitors held her in a congratulatory embrace.
SCHOENMAKER ‘SHOCKED’ BY RECORD-BREAKING PERFORMANCE
Schoenmaker became the first South African woman swimmer to win an Olympic gold medal since Penny Heyns won the 100m and 200m breaststroke at Atlanta 1996. She timed 2:18.95 to beat the 2:19:11 record set by Denmark’s Rikke Moller Pedersen in 2013.
“It’s still so unreal,” said Schoenmaker after the win. “I think my emotions showed I was pretty shocked.”
The record-breaking feat is an amazing accomplishment for the 24-year-old who said her goal before landing in Tokyo was simply to make the final.
“If I could just make the final, that’s what I’ve said ever since I knew I was coming.
“I missed 2016 by a split second on the day at trials and it sucked and it wasn’t a very happy moment but everything happens for a reason and to be honest I wasn’t ready at that time,” said Schoenmaker.
American swimmer Lily King, who placed second and led for most of the race, was full of praise for Schoenmaker. “I’ve been shocked the world record hasn’t been 2:18 until this point, she’s been swimming so well,” said King. “I’m genuinely excited for her.”
King’s teammate Annie Lazor finished third with a time of 2:20.84 and South Africa’s Kaylene Corbett placed fifth in 2:22.06.
“It’s so weird to actually be here. You’re so used to watching the Olympics on TV that it doesn’t feel real,” said Schoenmaker. “You see the logos and stuff but it hasn’t sunk in and I’m glad it hasn’t because then I’d probably be crying more.”
SA REACTS TO WIN
Schoenmaker’s win takes South Africa’s medal tally at the Tokyo Olympics to three – Schoenmaker won the silver medal in the women’s 100-metre breaststroke earlier in the week and surfer Bianca Buitendag picked a silver medal.
Schoenmaker became a trending topic after social media rushed to congratulate her on her record-breaking feat.
Additional reporting by AFP