Cape Town – It’s been more than six months since those memorable nights in the pool at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre in Japan, but South Africa’s golden girl, Tatjana Schoenmaker, still cannot believe just what she had achieved at the Olympics last year.
Schoenmaker spoke to IOL Sport at an event hosted by one of her sponsors, Under Armour, in Cape Town on Wednesday night – which celebrated the sports brand’s five-year anniversary in South Africa by showcasing the achievements of a number of athletes who they sponsor, including boxer Kevin Lerena, Paralympian star Ntando Mahlangu and Blitzboks rugby captain Siviwe Soyizwapi.
The Under Armour Mental Strength Symposium saw the athletes relating their journeys to the top of their sport, and the mental and physical challenges they had to tackle to become champions.
Asked if the fact that she had won a gold medal in the 200m breaststroke – while also setting a new world record of 2:18.95 – and a silver in the 100m breaststroke had sunk in yet, Schoenmaker said: “No! I don’t think it will ever – which is a great thing. When you don’t realise that the best thing, this ultimate dream that you had as a child, has already come true… I don’t think you want to let go of that dream, in the sense of, I’m still excited to go to the Olympics, as if I’ve never been.
“(The support from sponsors and fans) has been amazing, and everyone from South Africa – every single person, greeting me at the shop, wanting to take photos – it’s just so amazing to see the support. Obviously being part of these teams and them having to back me…
“But even before I went and even before all of this happened, it’s so nice because now we can celebrate it together – and that’s the best part!
* Read our full interview with Tatjana Schoenmaker in tomorrow’s Saturday Star, Weekend Argus Saturday and Independent on Saturday newspapers.