’Nerves’ might have got the better of Tatjana Schoenmaker in breaststroke final, says Penny Heynes
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CAPE TOWN - SOUTH African swimming legend Penny Heyns believes “the nerves may have got a bit of” Olympic silver medallist Tatjana Schoenmaker in the 100m breaststroke final.
Schoenmaker smashed the Olympic 100m breaststroke record in the semi-final with a breathtaking swim of 1:04:08. The 24-year-old could not repeat her performance in the showpiece, though, where she narrowly missed out on the gold medal, finishing in 1:05.22 behind American teenager Lydia Jacoby’s 1:04.95.
“I believe the 1:04.8 she swam in the heats was a big surprise for her. She never considered herself a 100m breast swimmer, but it shows she also has good speed. Today in the final, maybe the nerves got a bit of her,” said Heyns, who remains the only Olympian ever to achieve the 100m and 200m breaststroke “double” gold.
“After the semis, she told me she felt a bit tight. I still believe it’s a great swim, but unfortunately for her the winning time is a tenth slower than her Olympic record. That’s always something she will think about.”
Heyns believes Schoenmaker's achievements in Tokyo will inspire a whole new generation of swimmers back home in South Africa.
“I am very proud. I am in fact very emotional, which is something I never felt with my own races. I am very proud of her, not only because of her performances, but also for the person she is - the sense of sportsmanship she has is amazing”, said the two-time gold medallist.
““She is a nice example for young swimmers to follow. Some years ago, I did some TV comments at an African competition and I remember saying that this young girl winning the breaststroke had a lot of talent and a brilliant future ahead. Over the years, Tatjana was OK, but all of a sudden she really started to improve.
“It is very nice to see that South Africa has, after so long, competitive female swimmers in the team. To see that the first medal for team South Africa, a silver, is coming from one of those swimmers, it’s definitely very special and good for Swimming South Africa.”
Schoenmaker will have another chance to claim Olympic gold when she competes in her favoured 200m breaststroke event.
“It will be a very interesting race, as she has improved one second in the 100m since our National Trials. I don’t want to predict anything anymore, but she is definitively one of the favourites going to the 200m. And I believe she can do better then.” Heyns told the Fina website.
Schoenmaker joined an elite list of South African female swimmers to have won medals at the Summer Olympics on Tuesday when she claimed silver in the 100m breaststroke in Tokyo.
THE FULL MEDAL LIST
4x100m Freestyle relay: Rhoda Rennie, Frederica van der Goes, Mary Bedford, Kathleen Russell
LOS ANGELES, 1932
400m freestyle: Jenny Maakal
100m backstroke: Joan Harrison
4x100m freestyle relay: Moira Abernethy, Jeanette Myburgh, Natalie Myburgh, Susan E. Roberts
1OOm breaststroke: Penny Heyns
200m breaststroke: Penny Heyns
100m backstroke: Mariaane Kriel
100m breaststroke: Penny Heyns
100m breaststroke: Tatyana Schoenmaker