The country’s newest swimming sensation, Tatjana Schoenmaker, admits her stunning performance at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games has not yet sunk in, and she is reluctant to look too far ahead after proving she has the ability to stand up against the best in the world.
The 20-year-old breaststroke specialist, considered an outside contender going into the Games, became the first SA woman in eight years to earn a medal in the pool at the quadrennial showpiece, snatching gold in the 100m and 200m finals.
“Thinking back to training, how hard this season was, I can’t imagine how the next season will be,” Schoenmaker said.
“But hopefully I can be on form at next year’s World Championships and then Tokyo (2020 Olympics).”
In the first of her three finals, Schoenmaker settled for fourth place in the 50m sprint, touching the wall in 30.82, and while she missed the podium by 0.04, she broke the long-standing African record held by Penny Heyns.
The following day she displayed tremendous tenacity in the 200mfinal.
After fading on the third length, Schoenmaker clawed her way back to win gold in an African record of 2:22.02, improving Suzaan van Biljon’s SA mark.
Given a day’s rest before her next final, she returned to the pool on Monday to again win gold, stopping the clock at 1:06.41 tobetter Heyns’ African standard of 1:06.52.
Though she had been compared to Heyns, who won 100m and 200m breaststroke gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Schoenmaker was reluctant to predict whether she could go much quicker, but she was confident her new national records would not stand for long.
“I wouldn’t say I’m trying to (go faster), but I really feel there are a lot of breaststroke stars.”