‘You smashed it,’ Ramaphosa tells SA’s golden girl Tatjana Schoenmaker

Amanda Khoza Presidency reporter
President Cyril Ramphosa called Tatjana Schoenmaker and her coach, Rocco Meiring, to congratulate them on the 200m breaststroke gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
President Cyril Ramphosa called Tatjana Schoenmaker and her coach, Rocco Meiring, to congratulate them on the 200m breaststroke gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
Image: GCIS / Elmond Jiyane

President Cyril Ramaphosa has congratulated Olympic gold medallist Tatjana Schoenmaker and her coach Rocco Meiring on “smashing the world record” at the Tokyo Games when she won the women’s 200m breaststroke on Friday.

During a four-minute phone call on Friday afternoon Ramaphosa said: “Well, Tatjana congratulations. You have lifted the country, we are in a good mood and we want to congratulate you for your unbelievable effort.

“When I saw your performance in the first race, the other one where you took silver, I knew that you were keeping something in store.”

Schoenmaker, who was smiling and laughing over the phone said, “Hello Mr President. I am glad you believed in me,” to which Ramaphosa said, “I did, thank you so much. It was just so unbelievable and I called to say congratulations, you have done this for the country as well as for yourself and we honour you and thank you.

“We are really delighted to have seen this unbelievable performance, a world record,” said Ramaphosa adding that, “you smashed it”.

To Meiring, he said, “well done and I congratulate you too because you have done unbelievable work in preparing Tatjana to be at the level where she is. She is the best in the world and there is no question about it.

“She is the very best in the world, to have won an Olympic gold and to have smashed the world record, is just unbelievable. So congratulations to you, you have done a fantastic job.”

Ramaphosa told the team he hoped other sporting disciplines would return home with more gold medals.

“We firmly believe that our athletes are really good. You are really outstanding Olympians and so thank you very much. I am sure your family, Tatjana, must be very proud of you.”

Schoenmaker responded by saying, “I must say that I am very excited to come back home. It’s two more days and then I am back.”

Ramaphosa then asked her, “What do you do other than being the best swimmer in the world?” and she replied saying that she is doing her second degree at Tuks (University of Pretoria). “I will be going back behind the books,” she chuckled.

“This will give you wings to make that second degree of yours,” said Ramaphosa.

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