CAPE TOWN - Tatjana Schoenmaker has just won an Olympic gold medal and set a new world record in the 200m breaststroke, but her coach Rocco Meiring believes she can go even faster leading up to the 2024 Paris Games.
The 24-year-old broke the 2:19.11 mark set by Rikke Moller Pedersen of Denmark in 2013 by becoming the first woman to breach the 2:19 barrier to clinch the Tokyo Olympics title with an astonishing time of 2:18.95 last Friday.
Schoenmaker nearly emulated Penny Heyns’ double from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, but had to be satisfied with a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke event, where she finished second to American teenager Lydia Jacoby in the final in 1:05.22 – having already produced an Olympic record of 1:04.82 in the heat.
The Tuks Sport athlete received a special welcome from family and friends at OR Tambo International Airport on Monday, as well as Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa and Sascoc officials.
While Schoenmaker said that her achievement has not sunk in yet, her coach Meiring is already thinking about the next challenge.
“She can go faster. I will die – as long as she is with me – to try and make her faster. I expected her to be fast. We do a lot of race simulation work. She was swimming the same programmes that she did (at the Olympics) before the national trials, so she could compare and we could compare where she was, compared to four months ago,” Meiring said.
“She was faster – she saw it, I saw it. We never spoke about it, because we know it. It was about on the day, whether she could put it all together, and she did.”
Moments like these 🥺— ESPN (@espn) July 30, 2021
After setting the WORLD RECORD and winning gold in the women’s 200m breaststroke, South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker is embraced by her teammate Kaylene Corbett as well as USA’s Lilly King and Annie Lazor. pic.twitter.com/Epyht4wkW9
Schoenmaker said she was going to spend the next few days taking it all in and having a look at all the messages on her phone, but that competitive spirit still came through when asked about the future.
“It’s (the Tokyo Olympics) over now, and now we have to focus for 2024. I obviously want to go faster one day, but it is a challenging time just to break that world record. I think it was standing from 2013, so it was a tough time to break,” she said.