Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

Pieter Coetze satisfied with bronze as he sets his sights on Paris Olympics

Coetze was the SA team's only medallist at the World Championships.

Despite returning home with only one medal from his three individual events, Olympic podium prospect Pieter Coetze says the lessons he has taken from his campaign at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha will help him fine-tune for the Paris Games.

Coetze earned bronze in the men’s 200m backstroke in the Qatari capital last week. The 19-year-old backstroke specialist also finished fourth in the 50m final and grabbed fifth spot in the 100m event.

The World Aquatics Championships has never been held during an Olympic year, however, and Coetze said he wasn’t too concerned about his results as he was entirely focused on the multi-sport showpiece in July.

‘Preparation competition’

Though the Olympic swimming programme would not include a 50m backstroke race, he was set to be among the nation’s best medal hopes in Paris, turning out in the 100m and 200m backstroke events and potentially the 4x100m medley relay.

With five months to go before the Games, Coetze said he would head back to the training pool and continue preparing for the quadrennial spectacle.

“This (World Championships) was always just going to be a preparation competition for [the Olympics],” said the rising teenage star, who earned the national squad’s only medal last week.

“It’s very early in the year. Normally at this time of year, I’m not racing, just training. So it’s definitely something new for my body that I wasn’t used to.

“The whole SA team is not used to that so I think we’re all very excited for the next few months and hopefully we can peak at the right time.”

Areas to work on

The former world junior champion, who bagged three medals at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, said he could take a lot of value from his experience in Doha (aside from his first senior world championship medal) in the build-up to the Olympics.

“On the mental side, I’ve learnt what state I should be in, what expectations I should and shouldn’t have, mostly those kinds of things,” Coetze said.

“And in the pool, there are a few things where I’ve realised my weaknesses that I need to work on.”

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