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Commonwealth Games

Lara vs Tatjana in all-SA battle for breaststroke dominance

02 August 2022 - 07:50
Lara van Niekerk after winning her 100m breaststroke semifinal in Birmingham on Monday.
Lara van Niekerk after winning her 100m breaststroke semifinal in Birmingham on Monday.
Image: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Team SA is primed to scoop a gold-silver at the Commonwealth Games on Tuesday night in what could be a titanic battle in the women’s 100m breaststroke between Tatjana Schoenmaker and Lara van Niekerk. 

Teenager Van Niekerk is the 50m champion while Schoenmaker, 25, retained her 200m title, setting up a mouth-watering clash over 100m. The winner will land a breaststroke double but will it be the schoolkid, or will veteran Schoenmaker repeat her 100m-200m double from Gold Coast 2018.

On paper Schoenmaker, the silver medallist in this event at the Tokyo Games last year,  should be the overwhelming favourite, owning the 1 min 04.82 sec Olympic record. 

But it is Van Niekerk who set the pace in both the heats and the semifinals on Monday. She won the second semifinal in 1:05.96 while Schoenmaker took the other eliminator in 1:06.43.

Tatjana Schoenmaker in action in her 100m breaststroke semifinal in Birmingham on Monday.
Tatjana Schoenmaker in action in her 100m breaststroke semifinal in Birmingham on Monday.
Image: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

In the morning Van Niekerk clocked 1:06.40, with Schoenmaker the second-fastest in 1:07.10.

At the national championships Van Niekerk upstaged Schoenmaker in this event too, winning that race in 1:05.67, the fastest time ever posted in SA. 

Schoenmaker is the fastest South African ever, and Van Niekerk the second-fastest. 

Whoever wins, the SA women will achieve their golden clean-sweep of all three breaststroke medals.

The final is set for 8.07pm. Strap yourself in. 

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