Teen Pieter Coetzé confirms his place at the Tokyo Games in spectacular end to Gqeberha event
A spectacular end to the SA Invitational Aquatics Championships saw 16-year-old Pieter Coetzé confirm his place at the Tokyo Games after dipping under the Olympic qualification in the final event on Monday.
Coetzé swam the opening backstroke leg of the men’s 4x100m medley and the Gauteng swimmer clocked a 53.62 to book his spot at the Tokyo Games.
Coetzé, who wore a big smile and saluted his teammates cheering from the stands, said the feeling was difficult to describe.
“It was very important to stay calm, especially after not making it the other day.
“That could have been the end for me if I went the wrong way mentally but I had my amazing coach with me, who helped me, so I am glad I could pull through,” he said.
“I didn’t even think about the race until I got down here [from the stands].
“The nerves were there, but because it’s the fourth time I am trying, I’ve kind of got used to them,” he said.
National 50m freestyle record holder Emma Chelius set the heats alight as she set a new national mark in addition to gaining Olympic qualification.
Despite slowing to 25 seconds flat in the final on Monday evening, her performance in the morning heats had her looking on in disbelief as the board showed 24.72, taking 0.23 of a second off the previous record.
“It was my goal coming into the meet to hit the time as early as possible,” she said.
“Obviously you can dream and scheme, but achieving it in the morning was a blessing, because it took all the pressure off of this evening’s swim.
“Luckily for a 50 you can swim hard in the morning and in the evening, so that was my goal, to get the qualifying time in the morning and I am just glad it all came together.”
Chelius was a member of the women’s 4x100m freestyle team, alongside Aimee Canny, Erin Gallagher and Rebecca Meder, who swam a 3:40.29, a national and continental record, to qualify for the Olympics on Saturday evening.
Matt Sates, swimming in the 200m individual medley, missed out on the 1:59.67 qualification time by 0.02 secs, finishing the race in 1:59.69.