Tokyo Olympics

Schoenmaker tipped for Olympic gold, but warns SA fans: 'Don't get too excited'

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South African swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker
South African swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker
Anton Geyser/Gallo Images

Star South African swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker says fans shouldn't get "too excited" as she eyes a second Olympic medal at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

On Thursday, Schoenmaker booked her spot in the women's 200m breaststroke final as she finished as the fastest qualifier, touching the wall first to win the second semi-final in a time of 2:19.33.

Fellow countrywoman Kaylene Corbett won the first semi-final to seal a spot in her first Olympic final.

READ | Stage set for Schoenmaker to be SA's golden girl: '15 years of training for 2 minutes, 20 seconds'

Schoenmaker, who won South Africa's first medal of this year's Games in the 100m breaststroke on Tuesday, swam an Olympic record in Wednesday's heats as she recorded 2:19.16.

Swimming in lane four, Schoenmaker produced another scintillating performance in the semi-finals. 

"It was a bit tougher than yesterday, the whole timetable was delayed by 10 minutes so sitting extra time in the core room and I think if you eat and do stuff before, you plan before the time," said Schoenmaker.

Schoenmaker is now a massive favourite to win South Africa's first gold medal in Tokyo in Friday's final. 

Is she succeeds, she'll become the first female South African swimmer to win gold since Penny Heyns' double gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

However, the humble Schoenmaker believes SA fans shouldn't get too excited as it's all about the right strategy in the 200m.

"The 200m is very strategic, anyone can win in the last few metres... we've seen the 100m, people are taking off times and the girl next to me I think took off two seconds yesterday so anything can happen," said Schoenmaker.

"I don't think we need to get too excited as it's a long race, especially when you're leading and we can see people catch up, it's such a strategy race."

Schoenmaker says she is excited to compete in her second Olympic final and will walk out with a smile on her face, regardless of the outcome.

"I'm just going to focus on my own lane tomorrow, I learnt that from the 100m," said Schoenmaker.

"If I can do that I have swum the perfect race, I'll walk with a smile on my face no matter the outcome.

"I'm excited to rest for the day and prepare for tomorrow and [hopefully] everything works as planned and I can give it my all again."

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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