Tatjana Schoenmaker begins bid for double Olympic gold on Sunday
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CAPE TOWN - At last, the time has arrived. Tatjana Schoenmaker has been preparing for the Olympic stage for the last four years, and now her dream is about to become reality.
The South African swimming star will take to the pool today in the 100m breaststroke heat five (12.45pm) in the first of her two events at the Tokyo Olympics, with the 200m breaststroke starting on Wednesday (heat four at 12.45pm).
WATCH: The IOL Sports Show: Penny Heyns says Tatjana Schoenmaker can spoil US party at Olympics
She is great form, having set new national and African records in the 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke events at the SA championships in April – 30.42 seconds, 1:05.74 and 2:20.17 respectively.
Schoenmaker has worked hard in training over the last month or two, and is one of the favourites for the 200m title, where she is ranked No 1 in the world this year with her 2:20.17. She will be chased by Great Britain’s Molly Renshaw (2:20.89) and American Annie Lazor (2:21.07), while American Lilly King can never be ruled out.
As far as the 100m is concerned, King is the defending champion from Rio and is the definite gold-medal contender in Tokyo as well. She has produced the fastest time in the world this year of 1:04.72, while Schoenmaker is ranked 15th with her 1:05.74.
But can she emulate Penny Heyns’ 100m-200m breaststroke double from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics?
She is well-equipped to do so, and her friendly nature will stand her in good stead in Japan.
Despite the Covid-19 restrictions and no crowds, Schoenmaker seems to have embraced the environment in the right spirit, judging by her social media posts.
One of the highlights so far has been her TikTok-like video on Instagram of her and her female SA swimming teammates getting into their official kit for the opening ceremony on Friday with a cool dance.
“LET THE GAMES BEGIN. Father God may your will be done, may your peace fill us up, may we praise you no matter what the outcome, may we be empowered by your strength to give it our all and may we forever be in the awe of your goodness!” Schoenmaker posted on her Twitter account.
“Thank you for bringing us to this very moment Ps. Wow this is still so unreal! There are no words to describe how we are feeling Hope we can make you proud South Africa. Let’s go #teamrsa DREAMS DO COME TRUE.”
LET THE GAMES BEGIN 🙏![CDATA]>🏻![CDATA]>🇿![CDATA]>🇦— Tatjana Schoenmaker (@TRSchoenmaker) July 23, 2021
Father God may your will be done, may your peace fill us up, may we praise you no matter what the outcome, may we be empowered by your strength to give it our all and may we forever be in the awe of your goodness! pic.twitter.com/FE21q66Bvs
After today’s 100m heat, Schoenmaker’s semi-final will take place tomorrow early morning (between 3.50am-3.56am SA time), with the final set for Tuesday at 4.17am.
Then the 200m campaign begins on Wednesday with her 200m heat at 12.45pm SA time, with the semi-finals on Thursday (4.54am-5.01am), and the final on Friday (3.41am).