Tatjana Schoenmaker Lara van Niekerk
Tatjana and Lara win silver and gold at the Commonwealth Games 2022. Photo: Anton Geyser

The Commonwealth is conquered, now bring on the world. For the second time in 72 hours golden girl Lara van Niekerk blew away the opposition on the way to winning gold at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, this time adding the 100m breaststroke title to the 50m crown she won so impressively. By GARY LEMKE in Birmingham.

Still only 19, Van Niekerk has come out of the shadows and is now set to blaze a breaststroke trail that Penny Heyns started in the 1990s when she broke 14 world records and won three Olympic medals, and which Tatjana Schoenmaker continued at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and last year’s Tokyo Olympics.

That’s not to say Schoenmaker is disappearing from view. She added 100m silver to the 200m gold, just like she did in Tokyo, although now there’s another kid on the block as well.

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And the joyous display of unity and camaraderie that Schoenmaker has shared on the podium with Kaylene Corbett in the 200 and now Van Niekerk in the 100 in Birmingham shows what a champion she remains. If anything, it highlights how dominant South Africa is in the world of women’s breaststroke swimming.


Although the world has been in awe of Schoenmaker for a few years now, Van Niekerk announced herself in Birmingham and will go away with two gold medals and three Longines watches, courtesy of breaking three Games records in the 50m breaststroke.

Here she stepped up to the 100m, though, taking on Schoenmaker, the Olympic silver medallist. Could the teenager convert that raw 50m speed into something that required more stamina over the longer distance? Would her nerves hold against the formidable champion in the lane next to her? She answered that question emphatically and did so by pulling away from the field in the last 50m to take gold in 1min 05.47sec. That swim would have won her the world title in Budapest in June, which shows that she’s now dining at the top table of the sport.

Van Niekerk came into the final as the race favourite, in lane four, with Schoenmaker in lane five and Kaylene Corbett, in lane one, making it a trio of South Africans in the final at a packed Sandwell Aquatics Centre. All three have been inseparable in their athletes’ village at the University of Birmingham and there was again genuine interest in how each were to perform on this big night.

Van Niekerk pulled away in the middle lane and led Schoenmaker to the wall at halfway in 30.26sec. That lead was 0.66, which is quite substantial at this level. It was also predictable given what she’d shown in the 50m. Now, though, the Olympic silver medallist, who has been virtually unbeatable over 200m for the past few years, was surely going to claw her back on the way home? And as much as Schoenmaker tried, her teammate was faultless and in fact came home 0.55 quicker than her. Schoenmaker (1:06.68) held on to take silver ahead of Australia’s Chelsea Hodges.

“I’m speechless,” Van Niekerk said. “I don’t this this will ever sink in. After the Worlds in June, which wasn’t the best gala for me, this means a lot. I really thought this race would come down to a touch, so I’m quite surprised when I touched the wall. I looked and thought, ‘Where’s Tatjana?’ I thought it would come down to the last touch and was preparing myself for it.”

Corbett, who had swum the race of her life in dipping under 1:07 in the semi-final, was clearly fatigued by that effort and finished seventh in 1:07.62. All three will take medals home with them, and they have claimed five of the nine breaststroke medals on offer here. It is a phenomenal achievement and even though Van Niekerk takes the individual accolades, it was truly a team effort.

Afterwards, Schoenmaker highlighted the special bond that exists between the sisters of the pool. “I’m very happy. I came to do my best and that was the best on the day for me. It wasn’t my best time, but I have found these Games quite challenging mentally, coming off the highs of Tokyo only last year.

“I came here to take in the experience. I don’t normally wave and smile, but I wanted to take it all in. I’m so happy to be part of this team. It’s weird being the senior because for years I have been one of the juniors. Seeing them take home the medals here has been a privilege to share those moments with them.

“Hopefully, there’s more to come. We’re here to represent South Africa and we want South Africa to be at the top.”

Meanwhile teenager Pieter Coetze, who won bronze last night said: “Being part of Team SA has been amazing. I’ve learnt from them every day. Paris 2024 is the main focus and everything else is a stepping stone. I’ll go back home and see what Rocco and I can do to bring back Olympic gold in 2024.”

IF YOU’RE IN SOUTH AFRICA – Watch Team SA in action at the Commonwealth Games on Showmax Pro

Source: TeamSA

Team SA at the Commonwealth Games 2022: What to Watch Today

Team SA in action on Wednesday (Day 6)
Team SA started the sixth day of competition with 16 medals at the 2022 Commonwealth Games – six golds, five silvers and five bronzes. There is representation in 12… Read more
Team SA in action on Wednesday (Day 6)
Team SA started the sixth day of competition with 16 medals at the 2022 Commonwealth Games – six golds, five silvers and five bronzes. There is representation in 12 sports in Birmingham on Wednesday.

ATHLETICS
11.20am Men’s 800m, heats: Tshepo Tshite
12.02pm Men’s T11/T12 100m, heats: Jaco Smit, Ndodomzi Ntutu
12.44pm Men’s 400m, heats: Zakithi Nene
7.10pm Men’s 100m, semi-final: Akani Simbine
8pm Women’s 10000m, final: Dominique Scott-Erfud
9.20pm Men’s T37/T38 100m, final: Charl du Toit
9.30pm Men’s 100m, final: Akani Simbine

BADMINTON
11am Women’s singles, round of 64: Johanna Scholtz vs Freya Redfearn (England)
1pm Deidre Jordaan and Johanna Scholtz vs Eleni Christodoulou and Eva Kattiritz (Cyprus)
5.30pm Men’s singles, round of 64: Caden Kakora vs Ben Chater (Falkland Islands)
6pm Women’s singles, round of 64: Deidre Jordaan vs Justine Naluwooza (Uganda)

BEACH VOLLEYBALL
7pm Men’s Group Grant Goldschmidt, Leo Williams vs Maldives

BOXING
9.15pm Men’s middleweight (75kg) quarter-final: Simnikiwe Bongco vs Kemrond Moses (Grenada)

CYCLING (MOUNTAIN BIKE)
2pm Women’s Cross-Country: Candice Lill

HOCKEY
9pm Men’s Pool A: South Africa vs Australia

JUDO
TBC Men’s 90kg, semi-finals: Thomas Breytenbach vs Jamal Petgrave (England) or Marius Metois (Vanuatu)

LAWN BOWLS
8.30am Men’s singles, Section A, Round 2: Jason Evans vs Todd Priaulx (Guernsey)
8.30am Women’s Pairs, Section B, Round 2: Colleen Piketh, Bridget Calitz vs New Zealand
11.30am 8.30am Women’s Pairs, Section B, Round 2: Colleen Piketh, Bridget Calitz vs India
3pm Men’s Fours, Section A, Round 2: Wayne Rittmuller,Petrus Breitenbach, Prince Neluonde, Bradley Robinson vs New Zealand
3pm Women’s Triples, Section A, Round 3: Johanna Snyman, Esme Kruger, Thabelo Muvhango vs Singapore
3pm Para Women’s Pairs B6-B8, Bronze medal match: Victiria van der Merwe vs England
6pm Men’s Fours, Section A, Round 3: Wayne Rittmuller,Petrus Breitenbach, Prince Neluonde, Bradley Robinson vs Malta
6pm Women’s Triples, Section A, Round 4: Johanna Snyman, Esme Kruger, Thabelo Muvhango vs Australia

NETBALL
12pm Pool A: South Africa vs Wales

SWIMMING
10.40am Men’s 200m IM, heat 4: Matt Sates, Andrew Ross, Guy Brooks
11.03am Women’s 400m freestyle, heat 4: Dune Coetzee
11.10am Men’s 4x100m medley relay
11.15am Women’s 4x100m medley relay, heats
7.51pm Women’s 50m Backstroke final: Rebecca Meder
8.48pm Women’s 400m Freestyle final: Dune Coetzee (TBD)
8.58pm Men’s 4x100m medley relay final: TBD
9.08pm Women’s 4x100m medley relay finalTBD

TABLE TENNIS
9.30am Women’s singles, Group 7, Round 1: Zodwa Maphanga vs Chloe Thomas Wu Zhang (Wales)
10.05am Men’s singles, Group 8, Round 1: Shaun Jones vs Hongtao Chen (Canada)
11.15am Women’s singles, Group 7, Round 2: Zodwa Maphanga vs Fatimath Ali (Maldives)
10.50am Men’s singles, Group 8, Round 2: Shaun Jones vs Marius Yiangou (Cyprus)
4pm Women’s singles, Group 13, Round 1: Mushfiquh Kalam vs Millicent Ankude (Ghana)
4pm Women’s singles, Group 10, Round 1: Danisha Patel vs Solesha Young (Jamaica)
4.35pm Men’s singles, Group 11, Round 1: Chetan Nathoo vs Kevin Farley (Barbados)
4.35pm Men’s singles, Group 9, Round 1: Theo Cogill vs Dillon Chambers (Australia)
5.45pm Women’s singles, Group 10, Round 2: Danisha Patel vs Jenny Amadi (Kenya)
6.20pm Women’s singles, Group 13, Round 2: Mushfiquh Kalam vs Natalie Cummings (Guyana)
6.20pm Men’s singles, Group 9, Round 2: Theo Cogill vs Javier Sotomayor (Falkland Islands)
6.55pm Men’s singles, Group 11, Round 2: Chetan Nathoo vs Stephen Reilly (Fiji)

WEIGHTLIFTING
6.30pm Men’s +109kg, final: Nathan Eli Morros

IF YOU’RE IN SOUTH AFRICA – Watch Team SA in action at the Commonwealth Games on Showmax Pro