BRISBANE – Tatjana Schoenmaker completed her hat-trick of African records on Monday when she won the 100m breaststroke at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in a time of 1:06.41.
She has now undoubtedly become the 'Golden Girl' of South African swimming.
On Saturday, the Tuks-swimmer won the 200m-breaststroke in an African record time of 2:22.02. She was fourth in the 50m-breaststroke in another record time of 30.82s.
It is noteworthy to mention that two out of the three records Schoenmaker bettered were held by the legendary Penny Heyns, and the other by Suzaan van Biljon.
For the last eight years South Africa has been holding out for a female hero, and now it is Schoenmaker who stepped up to the proverbial plate. She is the first in eight years to win gold at the Commonwealth Games.
In 2010 in Delhi, Natalie du Toit claimed three gold medals.
The Tuks swimmer impressed throughout the Games with the clinical precision she executed her races. Nothing seemed to faze her. She was in total control from the moment the starter’s pistol fired in Monday's 100m breaststroke.
Leading from the start for a brief moment she relinquished her lead being only the third to touch the wall after the first 50 metres, but the moment she did her turn she was in control. Over the last twenty or so metres she inched ahead with each stroke.
Canada’s Kierra Smith was second in 1:07.51 and Australia’s Georgia Bohl third in 1:07.22.
Schoenmaker’s golden success should be no surprise. Right from when she started swimming she had been a perfectionist. One of the classic moments was in 2015. She had won three gold medals at the South African Championships.
It was expected that she would have been happy, but she was not. She felt like she had failed because she did not qualify for the World Championships.
“My winning times were the same as the times I swam in 2014. I should have swum faster,” she said at the time.
Schoenmaker did not speak those words for the sake of saying something it. She was serious. Over the last three years, she was on a constant quest to get faster. There were disappointments and setbacks, but she did not let that deter her.
It is interesting to note that in 2015 her best time in the 100m-breaststroke was 1:08.85 now it is 1:06.41. In the 200m-breaststroke it was 2:29.23 now it is 2:22.02. In the 50m-breaststroke it was 32.45s and now 30.82s.
And the best is yet to come. Rocco Meiring who coaches her at Tuks, predicted a long time ago that Schoenmaker would only be at her best in 2020.
Be warned, there are more medals to come.
African News Agency (ANA)