Tatjana Schoenmaker sets new Olympic record in 100m breaststroke heat
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CAPE TOWN - Tatjana Schoenmaker laid down a serious marker on Sunday that she is aiming for a breaststroke double at the Tokyo Olympics with a new 100m event record.
The South African superstar is regarded as the favourite for the 200m breaststroke, but showed that she means business in the 100m as well.
Schoenmaker stopped the clock in a new Olympic record of 1 minute, 04.82 seconds (1:04.82), slashing her personal best of 1:05.74 by nearly a second.
She still trails defending champion, American Lilly King, on the 2021 world list, with her best this year being 1:04.72.
But King produced a sluggish performance in her heat – the last one after watching Schoenmaker break her previous Olympic mark of 1:04.93 – and she just held on for victory in 1:05.55.
That means Schoenmaker has the fastest time going into Monday’s semi-finals, with King third as another American in Lydia Jacoby (1:05.52) is second.
King is the world record-holder (1:04.13) and should still be regarded as the favourite at this stage.
But the 24-year-old Schoenmaker has made the best possible start to her bid to emulate Penny Heyns’ memorable 100m-200m breaststroke gold double from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony, Schoenmaker posted on social media: “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!
“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.”
The 100m semi-finals take place early Monday morning South African time (3.50am and 3.56am), with the final on Tuesday at 4.17am.
The 200m competition kicks off on Wednesday, with Schoenmaker’s heat at 12.45pm SA time, with the semi-finals on Thursday (4.54am-5.01am), and the final on Friday (3.41am).