Tokyo Olympics

Schoenmaker hopes Olympic silver brings SA some joy: 'I couldn't give any more'

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Tatjana Schoenmaker (Getty)
Tatjana Schoenmaker (Getty)

Star swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker says she gave it her all as she clinched silver in the women's 100m breaststroke at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre on Tuesday.

Schoenmaker made history by becoming the first South African female swimmer to win an Olympic medal since Penny Heyns' bronze at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

After setting an Olympic record in the 100m heats (1:04.82), Schoenmaker fell just short of gold in the final.

Swimming in lane four, Schoenmaker was first after the 50m turn but 17-year-old Lydia Jacoby of America surpassed her, and she eventually finished second, putting Team SA on the board in Tokyo.

Schoenmaker touched the wall in 1:05.22 - 0.27 seconds behind Jacoby (1:04.95) as world record-holder Lily King (1:05.54) finished third.

Schoenmaker, who is a favourite for the 200m breaststroke, was delighted to medal in her Olympic debut.

"At the end, I was dying a little, but it was very hard to focus on your race completely," said Schoenmaker on Tuesday.

"I did see Lily on the side, but on the [other] side, I was completely blocked. I was completely tired. I know I gave my best.

"I literally couldn't give any more, so I'm very happy. I was not ranked in a medal position coming in, so walking out with a medal is amazing. I swam a PB in the heat and I could've left it like that."

Despite her race being in the wee hours of the morning in South Africa, a delighted Schoenmaker hopes that the silver medal brings joy to the Rainbow Nation.

"It's amazing, I really hope it brings hope to South Africa because we're obviously going through a tough time at the moment," said Schoenmaker.

"If this shows that there is some hope for South Africa that'll be great, as we know sport unites countries. We've seen it with the Rugby World Cup, so hopefully, the Olympics does the same."

Schoenmaker will now turn her attention to the 200m breaststroke heats, scheduled for Wednesday (12:49 SA time).

*Lynn Butler is in Tokyo covering the Olympics for Sport24.

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