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Tatjana Schoenmaker can go even faster, says her coach Rocco Meiring

South Africa's Tatjana Schoenmaker during the Tokyo Olympics. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP

South Africa's Tatjana Schoenmaker during the Tokyo Olympics. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP

Published Aug 4, 2021


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.

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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.

ALSO READ: WATCH – Tatjana Schoenmaker gets warm welcome at OR Tambo: ‘This really makes the moment extra special’

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.

ALSO READ: ’You have lifted the country’, President Cyril Ramaphosa tells Tatjana Schoenmaker after Olympic triumph

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“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.”

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.

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