A University of Pretoria student Tatjana Schoenmaker’s record-breaking gold medal in the 200m breaststroke at the Tokyo Olympics could motivate more young female swimmers in the country not to give up on their career, a coach at the university said. Schoenmaker served her best by winning the women’s 200m-breaststroke in a world record time of 2.18.95 at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on Friday, 30 July. The Tuks based swimmer’s winning time is 0.17s faster than the record set by Rikke Pedersen (Denmark) in 2013.

Ruan Ras, Schoenmaker’s boyfriend and also a swimmer, said he was excited watching the race. “I think it was surreal, just watching that race and watching her touch and actually seeing that world record pop up on the TV, that was amazing, that was such an amazing feeling,”

Schoenmaker came out top in a duel with American Lilly King on Friday, clocking 2:18.95 to smash a world record that had lasted eight years and deliver the first gold medal for South African women in the pool in a quarter of a century. King finished second in 2:19.92, with Annie Lazor (USA) third in 2:20.84. Kaylene Corbett, the other Tuks based swimmer, was fifth. Her time of 2:22.06 was again a personal best.

The television commentators lauded Schoenmaker’s performance as a special moment in Olympic history. There was even praise for the University of Pretoria (UP-Tuks) as one of the world’s best coaching facilities. “It is hard to believe that my Olympic journey is coming to an end, but I can’t wait to go home to celebrate with my family.” Said Schoenmaker 

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