JOHANNESBURG – The queen of South African swimming, Tatjana Schoenmaker is up for her first international accolade after she was nominated for the Fisu Best Athlete Award thanks to her efforts at the World Student Games in Napoli, Italy in July.
Schoenmaker highlighted her class at the Student Games, winning the 100-200m breaststroke double gold. The TuksSport swimmer improved on her South African and continental record in the 100m breaststroke clocking one minute 6.32 seconds (1:06.32), chopping 0.09s off her previous best.
“I didn’t expect that. I am just this odd little swimmer so I didn’t ever think I would get nominated for such an amazing award,” Schoenmaker said.
“This year’s World Students was much different than the previous one, and the first one was my biggest competition where this one was just preparation for the World Championships.
Two years ago she won the 200m breaststroke silver medal at the 2017 edition in Taiwan, becoming the second South African female swimmer – after Penny Heyns – to win a medal at the Student Games.
Her double gold at this year’s Games in Italy lay the foundation for her historic swim at the FINA Swimming World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea later in the month.
The 22-year-old Schoenmaker became the first South African woman to win a medal at the world long-course championships when she finished second in the 200m breaststroke final.
Schoenmaker finished second behind defending champion Yuliya Efimova of Russia. The South African hit the wall in 2:22.52 for her silver medal.
Schoenmaker knows she must make more improvements to challenge for a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
For the silver-medal feat, world 100m breaststroke champion Lilly King did not feature in the 200m final after she was disqualified, while Schoenmaker believed she did not face a full-strength field.
Schoenmaker is expected to walk away with the Best Athlete Award at the International University Sports Federation’s gala in Turin, Italy on November 15.
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