Team SA swimming coach Wayne Riddin of Pietermaritzburg heaped praised on colleague Rocco Meiring on Friday for helping Tatjana Schoenmaker to become an Olympic gold medalist and world record holder at the Tokyo Games.
Meiring was overjoyed and Riddin in awe close by as Schoenmaker finished first in the women’s 200m breaststroke final in a new global record of 2:18.95 on Friday, with compatriot Kaylene Corbett fifth in 2:22.06.
Meiring, who guides Schoenmaker and Corbett at Tuks, deserves applause for his hard work with the swimmers as coach and mentor, said Riddin from pool side.
“Moments like this that make it all worthwhile, what a swim in a new world record and Olympic record from Tatjana Schoenmaker — well done Rocco Meiring — not forgetting the personal best from Kaylene Corbett as well!” said Riddin.
It was South Africa’s first gold medal of the Tokyo Games following one silver in each of swimming (Schoenmaker, 100m breaststroke) and surfing (Bianca Buitendag) in previous days.
Riddin had noted Meiring’s contribution even before Friday’s golden performance by the sensational Schoenmaker and the personal best by Corbett.
Said the veteran: “Just a special tribute to a coaching colleague, Rocco Meiring, as he goes into his final preparation of two amazing swimmers, Tatjana Schoenmaker and Kaylene Corbett, for the final of the women’s 200m breaststroke at the Olympic Games.
“What an outstanding achievement from any coach despite playing down his role as coach and mentor, taking little credit for the position he finds himself in.
“A final at Olympic Games is always an unpredictable situation with many possibilities and probabilities, and whatever the outcome you have already proven yourself in the world of swimming!
“We as South Africans are all behind you for the best result possible. For me, it’s been an honour and privilege to have been next to you to witness your amazing accomplishment with these two outstanding individuals. All the best with every South African standing by you and the ladies!”
That message was followed by the hot showing in the pool by Meiring’s two swimmers which made South Africa proud again.
Riddin’s enthusiastic coverage of Team SA activities at the Games through texts and visuals on social media has added colour to his official duties in Japan.
He has been thanked by members of the swimming community for that.