Tokyo Olympics

SA's Corbett not looking at Olympic podium: 'I'm just ecstatic to be in the final'

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South African swimmer Kaylene Corbett
South African swimmer Kaylene Corbett

South African star swimmer Kaylene Corbett insists an Olympic medal is not on her mind as she prepares for the biggest final of her life.

Corbett surprised many as the South African achieved a personal best in both the heats and semi-finals of the women's 200m breaststroke.

On Thursday, the 22-year-old booked her place in her first Olympic final after improving her personal best by 0.40 seconds to stop the clock in 2:22.08.

Corbett will be joined by fellow compatriot and silver medallist Tatjana Schoenmaker in the 200m breaststroke final as they became the first SA female swimmers to make the same final in 21 years.

The star breaststroke duo are both coached by TuksSwimming head coach Rocco Meiring.

Corbett, who made her Olympic debut earlier this week, hasn't shown any signs of nerves as she went "over above" from what she expected.

"I was hoping for this. Obviously, your times and training starts showing things as you progress through so I was hoping for the best," said Corbett.

"God is just going over and above from what I expected from this meet. I'm just over the moon.

"Rocco says we need to set the pace and you need to hold it so setting it up correctly and not going too fast. I'm pacing it quite well at the moment."

Corbett insists her job is "just about done" after not only achieving her goal of making a personal best but competing in an Olympic final.

"I'm not thinking of that yet. If you're swimming at this stage, you're just out there to swim a PB and race in your own race and if I'm blessed with a medal, then that's incredible," said Corbett.

"So whatever happens tomorrow, I'm definitely not looking at medals yet. I was just hoping for the final, I've done what I needed to do and I'm just ecstatic to be in the race for tomorrow."

Corbett has overnight become South Africa's newest swimming sensation after her impressive debut performance in Tokyo.

"I'm so overwhelmed with what's happening back home with the amount of people that have reached out," she said.

"I didn't think I've ever felt this much love and support. Like Nelson Mandela says, we just hope we can swim and unite our nation and hopefully, we can add a little hope with South Africa."

The 200m breaststroke final is scheduled to get under way at 03:41 (SA time) at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre on Friday.

*Lynn Butler is in Tokyo covering the Olympic Games for Sport24

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