SA Women Lead the Pack With Silver Medals

Written by on August 16, 2021

By Sinenhlanhla Ngwenya

Tatjana Schoenmaker at the awards ceremony with her silver medal in hand
Image source: Twitter @TeamSA2020

With just less than a week since the Olympics started last week, South Africa has already produced mention-worthy names on the world stage. This time, the ladies lead the pack with their silver medals, first Tatjana Schoenmaker in the women’s 100-metre breaststroke and Bianca Buitendag in surfing. Both these queens are the first to win medals in Team SA!

24-year-old Tatjana Schoenmaker first made a name for herself in the 2018 Commonwealth games where she won the gold medal in both the 100 and 200-metre races. The following year she won a gold in the 200-metre at the World Championships held in Gwangju, South Korea.

Earlier this year she qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, coming out as the top seed and a favourite for the 100-metre race. She also qualified for the 200-metre and, coming out as the 4th seed of the qualification race.
Schoenmaker took first place for her preliminary races and broke an Olympic Record in her 100-metre race where her time of 1:04.82 secured her spot in the semi-finals, breaking the record set by American Lilly King; a time of 1:04.93. She then went onto the finals with the fastest time of 1:05.07, leading yet again.

With both American athletes on either side, Schoenmaker came out with a silver medal in the finals with a time of 1:05.22, just a few seconds behind 17-year-old Lydia Jacoby for Team USA, who won with 1:04.95 and King winning the bronze medal.

Keeping the South African flag high, surfer Bianca Buitendag also bagged a silver medal home-doubling the South African medal count.

Bianca Buitendag after her final match
Image source: Twitter @TeamSA2020

27-year-old Buitendag, ranked 4th in the world in 2015 and was the only surfer representing Team SA in the Olympics. She qualified for the Olympics earlier this year and went on to win the quarterfinals by beating 7 time World champion Stephanie Gilmore from Australia. In the Semi-finals, she won against Yolanda Hopkins from Portugal, easing her way through to the finals to face America’s, Carissa Moore. Unfortunately, Buitendag came out second, bagging a silver medal.

It wasn’t an easy match for Buitendag. She struggled to get good waves, whereas opponent Moore managed to settle a few; her best being 7.60 while Buitendag came out with 7.33. Both Buitendag and Schoenmaker have made South Africa proud!

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