South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker who won the women’s 200 metres breaststroke title in a world record to secure the first swimming gold medal has attributed her victory to hard work and determination.
“I feel like it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Schoenmaker said.
“If I had finished first or last in that race I would have been able to walk out with such peace, knowing I gave it my all.”
Evgeny Rylov of the Russian Olympic Committee team also set an Olympic record as he completed a golden double by adding the men’s 200m backstroke title to the 100m version already secured, while China’s Wang Shun set an Asian record in winning the men’s 200m individual medley.
Schoenmaker was understandably overcome during the medal ceremony after lowering the world record she had missed by 0.05 seconds in the heats to 2min 18.95sec.
In so doing she maintained a proud South African record in breaststroke racing, emulating the victory in this event at Atlanta 1996 by compatriot Penelope Heyns.
While she has not quite managed to match Heyns’s 100 and 200m breaststroke winning double, the 24-year-old from Johannesburg has had a stellar Games, having won silver in the shorter of those distances.
Lilly King of the United States, who won bronze in the 100m breaststroke here in defending her title, did all she could to thwart the South African’s ambition, moving into an early lead, but she could not sustain it and eventually took silver in 2:19.92, with bronze going to her colleague Annie Lazor in 2:20.84.
McKeon lived up to her billing as favourite by winning the women’s 100m freestyle title in an Olympic record of 51.96sec.
Siobhan Haughey, who became the first Hong Kong swimmer to win an Olympic medal in finishing second in the women’s 200m freestyle, has now also become the first Hong Kong swimmer to win two Olympic medals after winning another silver, clocking an Asian record of 52.27.
Bronze went to McKeon’s team-mate and Cate Campbell, the Australian co-flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony, who finished in 52.52 ahead of Canada’s Penny Oleksiak, who recorded 52.59.
Sarah Sjöström of Sweden, who set the world record for this event in 2017, finished an honourable fifth in 52.68, having only resumed swimming last month following an elbow injury that prevented her defending four European titles earlier this year.
“I still can’t believe I’ve just won a gold medal,” said McKeon, before adding, with reference to her home town of Wollongong in New South Wales: “The emotions will really come out when I get back to Wollo.”