More than two decades after Penny Heyns won a historic double at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, another South African breaststroke specialist looks set to shine at the Games, with Tatjana Schoenmaker flaunting her form at the SA Swimming Championships in Gqeberha.
After breaking her own national 50m record in Gqeberha last week – a non-Olympic event – Schoenmaker went on to deliver in style over both the 100m and 200m distances.
In the 200m event, she demolished her African mark by touching the wall in 2:20.17, a time that would have been good enough for the gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The 23-year-old star closed out her domestic campaign with another solid performance on Sunday night, improving her continental record in the 100m event by winning the national title in 1:05.74.
While she is likely to need to find another gear to target the podium in the 100m event at this year’s Tokyo Olympics, the World Championships silver medallist has firmly cemented her place among the favourites over the 200m distance.
Meanwhile, four-time Olympic medallist Chad le Clos started his build-up to the Tokyo Games by winning gold in the 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly events, though he had to settle for the silver medal behind Matthew Sates in the 200m freestyle.
The SA Swimming Championships will come to a close with the sixth and final day of competition on Monday. – Wesley Botton