Gqeberha-born Kaylene Corbett, left, and Tatjana Schoenmaker carry SA's hopes in the women's 200m breaststroke at the Tokyo Olympics. Picture: GETTY IMAGES / QUINN ROONEY
Gqeberha-born Kaylene Corbett, left, and Tatjana Schoenmaker carry SA's hopes in the women's 200m breaststroke at the Tokyo Olympics. Picture: GETTY IMAGES / QUINN ROONEY

Tatjana Schoenmaker set her second Olympic record of the Tokyo Games as she torpedoed through the 200m breaststroke heats in 2min 19.16sec on Wednesday night.

She obliterated American Rebecca Soni’s 2:19.59 Games mark from 2019, and was just five-hundredths of a second outside the eight-year-old world mark‚ and as soon as she saw her time on the results board she beamed and then shed a few tears.

“At trials [in Gqeberha in April] I swam a massive PB [personal best‚ of 2:20.17]. I was just hoping if I could come close to my time again‚ because it was such a good race‚ I think I would have been happy with that.”

Instead, she took more than a second off to post what now ranks as the second-fastest swim of all time; only Denmark’s Rikke Pedersen has been quicker‚ going 2:19.11 at the 2013 world championships in Barcelona.

“I heard my coach [Rocco Meiring] screaming‚ ‘Am I going too slow? Am I?’ so hard‚ I never know‚” Schoenmaker said, finishing nearly 3sec quicker than her nearest rival‚ Lilly King of the US in 2:22.10.

Russian Evgeniia Chikunova was third quickest in 2:22.16 and then Schoenmaker’s training partner and former Pearson High pupil Kaylene Corbett posted the fourth-best time of the heats‚ 2:22.48‚ a huge personal best.

“I think I was motivated after seeing my teammate swim a massive PB and make the semis ranking fourth‚ so she must be over the moon.

“I was just scared that excitement was making me tired, but I just kept focused and I knew that if she was able to have a good race, I probably could have a good race as well.”

Corbett‚ eighth at the 2019 world championships‚ was only the third SA swimmer in Tokyo to advance beyond the heats‚ after Schoenmaker and Chad le Clos.

Birthday boy Matthew Sates became the fourth a few minutes later‚ advancing to the semifinals of the men’s 200m individual medley in 2:58.08‚ the 15th-fastest time of the heats.

Schoenmaker‚ who broke the Olympic record in the 100m breaststroke heats on Sunday‚ said she had felt jittery before her 200m race.

“I was a bit nervous after coming from the 100m‚ it’s a whole extra 100m‚ so I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel.”

Schoenmaker slowed down in the semifinals and final of the 100m breaststroke‚ eventually taking the silver medal in that event.

But the 200m is her main race and she seems to be so dominant there it’s hard to see her dropping enough for anyone to overhaul her‚ though a world record would be nice as well.

Team SA is in sight of their first gold of the Games.

The women’s 200m breaststroke semifinals are set for Thursday morning (4.54am SA time) and the final on Friday morning (3.41am SA time).

In other SA action on Wednesday, London 2012 champion Le Clos ended fifth in the men’s 200m butterfly and cyclist Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio placed eighth in the women’s individual time trial. 

In the men’s individual time trial, Stefan de Bod finished 14th over the 44.2km course in 57:57.

The men’s four rowers were supposed to be racing for glory on Wednesday, but instead ended last in the consolation B-final, crossing in 6min 9.85sec, 12.68sec behind winners Poland. 

The Blitzboks finished fifth overall in the Sevens, the U23 soccer side were thumped 3-0 in their final pool match, the women’s water polo side were thrashed 21-1 by Canada in their preliminary round fixture, while the women’s hockey team suffered a 5-0 drubbing against the Netherlands. 


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