It may not have sunk for South Africa’s wonder girl swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker, but to many of her country’s folks, it has. The 24-year-old Jacaranda City lass smashed the 2:19.11 world record held by Denmark’s Rikke Moller Pedersen since 2013, in the Tokyo Games in the women’s 200m breaststroke in a world record on Friday morning.
South Africans had been plunged into gloominess after the recent spate of violent protests and a spree of looting, but on Friday morning, many of them, like Sport, Arts, and Culture Minister, Nathi Mthethwa, must have awoken in good spirits and elation on Friday morning when they learned Schoenmaker had scooped the first gold for South Africa.
Mthethwa said South Africa is incredibly proud of Schoenmaker who has proven beyond a shadow of doubt that “South Africa is indeed a nation of winners. “She set the pace from the onset of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by becoming the first female South African swimmer to win an Olympic medal in 21 years. She is a true ambassador of the nation and a living example that hard work and dedication truly pay off,” Mthethwa said in a statement.
The 24-year-old South African smashed the 2:19.11 world record held by Denmark’s Rikke Moller Pedersen since 2013. With a two-minute 18.95 second mark, Schoenmaker has achieved the first individual world record of this gala.
She is the 10th South African to have won multiple medals at single Games, and the fourth since readmission, after Penny Heyns, Roland Schoeman at the Athens 2004 games, and Chad le Clos in London 2012 and Rio 2016.
Schoenmaker was the top seed in the 200m breaststroke going into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and upon achieving this momentous feat she said: “I would never have even thought of that. This is my first Olympics so for me to get a lane into the final, then everyone stands a chance. That’s the thing I’ve always believed in. So I’ve exceeded, or God has exceeded, all my expectations so I couldn’t be happier,” said an elated Schoenmaker.
On Tuesday, the athlete bagged a silver medal in the women’s 100m breaststroke final. –