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Travel ban denies Schoenmaker, Sates shot at World Short Course Championships

15 December 2021 - South Africa will be represented by a team of just four swimmers at the World Short Course Championships in Abu Dhabi from 16 to 21 December.
Travel ban denies Schoenmaker, Sates shot at World Short Course Championships

World Short Course Championships 2021

The Covid-induced travel ban imposed on the country because of the new Omicron variant has meant that both Olympic champion Tatjana Schoenmaker and newly crowned World Cup series winner Matt Sates are among those unable to travel to the UAE capital to compete.

A team of 21 South African swimmers was originally set to compete at the Championships, but this has been to reduced to just four athletes, who were outside of the country at the time when the ban was implemented.

Spearheading the team is 10-time short course world champion Chad le Clos, who is still on the comeback trail after a knee injury.

The former Olympic champion has been entered in the 100 and 200m freestyle as well as the 50, 100 and 200m butterfly. Le Clos has taken 100m butterfly gold at the last four editions of the championships, dating back to 2012.

Speaking about the greatly reduced team, Le Clos said: “I’m gutted that the team couldn’t come out. For a lot of these young swimmers, this opportunity would have been massive for them to compete and get the experience. I definitely feel for Matthew Sates. After having a phenomenal year, he could definitely have picked up some medals here.

“I’m also sad that my parents couldn’t be here to watch. All round this travel ban has hit us really hard. I was really lucky to be in Europe at this time – otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to go either.”

As for what he’s hoping for from the Championships, Le Clos added: “I wouldn’t say I’m fully fit, but I’m as good as I can be. I don’t like to make excuses. After having a small tear in my knee just six weeks ago, I think I’ve come a long way. Six or seven weeks ago we didn’t think we’d even be able to make it this far so just to be here is a blessing.

“If I can nick a medal, a little bronze, I’d be over the moon – considering the year that I’ve had.

“I’m just really happy to be here and represent my country, represent my family and my fans. Shout out to everyone back home who is supporting me and the team – the four of us – a very small team. Let’s show the world that South Africans are as tough and resilient as we are and fight through all the adversity we’ve had this year.”

The other South Africans competing in Abu Dhabi this week are 2018 world short course bronze medallist Brad Tandy, who will compete in the 50m freestyle and 50m butterfly, Tayla Lovemore (50 and 100m butterfly), who like Tandy is based in the USA, and Australia-based Michaela Pulford (200, 400 and 800m freestyle).

At the last Short Course World Championships in Hangzhou, China in 2018, the South African team claimed three golds, two silvers and two bronzes to finish sixth on the medal table.

ENDS

For further information please contact:

Swimming South Africa’s Marketing Coordinator

Mmathapelo Phale

011 404 2480 / 074 363 0001

Swimming South Africa is the governing body of aquatics in South Africa.

Its objective is to encourage the practice of aquatic disciplines for all in South Africa with the purpose of promoting swimming as a life skill through Learn to Swim programmes; providing healthy exercise to South Africans of all ages and races; recruiting recreational swimmers to compete in the various competitions; and promoting competition and athlete development to the highest level. Swimming South Africa is kindly supported by SASCOC, National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, Arena, Sport & Recreation SA and Rand Water.

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