‘I would not be a gold medallist if it was not for UP and TuksSport’ – Olympic swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker

Posted on September 09, 2021

The University of Pretoria (UP) recently welcomed Tatjana Schoenmaker back to her alma mater when the country’s golden girl lunched with the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Tawana Kupe, to celebrate her record-breaking Olympic win.

Schoenmaker put South Africa on the map and on the medal table when she set a world record for the 200m breaststroke at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in July this year, subsequently winning gold. She also finished the 100m breaststroke in second place, earning a silver medal.

“All this feels surreal,” she said. “It is an honour to be back in my country and at my university to celebrate my achievements. I am grateful to everyone who walked this journey with me. Without God’s grace, we would not be here. I would not be a gold medallist and have earned a degree if it was not for UP and TuksSport. I am grateful for the journey, and I am lucky to be able to do what I love.”

Addressing guests during the lunch, Prof Kupe said that the minute Schoenmaker had crossed the winning line, he set in motion plans to meet her. “It was a moment of delight,” he said. “Many strive for accomplishment and excellence, ­but Tatjana has reached that accomplishment and excellence. You did well, Tatjana – not only for yourself, but for your family, friends and the country.”

UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe (left) admires alumna Tatjana Schoenmaker's (right) Olympic medals at their recent meeting.

Schoenmaker’s coach, Rocco Meiring, said he and the swimming champ are grateful to UP for giving them support. “Thank you, Prof Kupe for prioritising sport at UP, because sport is a powerful force, and Tatjana Schoenmaker is an example of that.”

“Tatjana has been committed since day one,” said Steven Ball, Director of TuksSport. “And Rocco Meiring spotted her from day one, and specifically asked to work with her because he knew she was the one – and here we are today, celebrating their achievements. Tatjana’s win has brought people together. What an amazing moment; I have witnessed your evolution over nine years – congratulations!”

Professor Rendani Mulaudzi, Deputy Director of Sports Management at TuksSport, also offered his congratulations to Schoenmaker and Meiring for winning medals and for representing South Africa. “To you, Prof Kupe, TuksSport is constantly grateful for your continuous support in the form of funds and personnel facilities,” he added. “Without this kind of support, TuksSport would not be the best in Africa and in the world.”

Leo Dlamini, Chief Executive Officer of TuksSport sponsor Bestmed Medical Scheme, was also in attendance. “Tatjana and Coach Meiring, it is your partnership that made this happen; Bestmed Medical Scheme as a partner of UP would like to congratulate the two of you on a job well done.”

- Author Xolani Mathibela
Published by Hlengiwe Mnguni

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