Van Niekerk Wins Africa’s Sole Medal Of 2022 World Champs (Day 8 Africa Recap)

by Ben Dornan 3

June 25th, 2022 Africa, International, News


On the final day of the 2022 World Championships Lara van Niekerk of South Africa placed third in the 50 breaststroke final with a 29.90 to get into the top 3 and take bronze. That swim made van Niekerk the only swimmer from an African country to medal at this World Championships.

This is the first major international medal for van Niekerk who had previously collected 4 gold medals at the African Championships in 2018 and 4 golds and a silver at the 2017 African Junior Championships. Van Niekerk holds the African and South African record in this event at a 29.72, which she swam at the 2022 South African National Swimming Championships.

This is the first time that the continent of Africa has collected less than 2 medals since back in 2001 when South Africa’s Roland Schoeman took bronze in the 50 freestyle. South Africa has won 2 or more medals at each edition of this meet since 2003.

Among those who have brought in multiple medals for South Africa include Schoeman, Chad le Clos, Tatjana Schoenmaker, and Cameron van der Burgh. Other African medalists over the years include Ous Mellouli of Tunisia, Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe, and Farida Osman from Egypt.

Medal Counts From African Countries per World Championships 2001 – 2019

World Championships Medal Count Per History
2019 South Africa: 4
Egypt: 1
2017 South Africa: 2
Egypt: 1
2015 South Africa: 4
2013 South Africa: 5
2011 South Africa: 3
2009 South Africa: 3
Tunisia: 3
Zimbabwe: 2
2007 South Africa: 3
Zimbabwe: 2
2005 South Africa: 5
Zimbabwe: 4
Tunisia: 2
2003 South Africa: 1
Tunisia: 1
2001 South Africa: 1

This is the first time that the World Championships will take place in the same year as the Commonwealth Games, which is a larger focus for many African swimmers whose nations are part of the Commonwealth. Tatjana Schoenmaker for example sat out of this year’s World Championships in order to prepare for the Commonwealth Games next month.

Schoenmaker would have been a prime contender to win a medal here if she had been racing as the reigning Olympic champion in the 200 breast and the reigning silver medalist in the 100 breast. At the 2019 World Championships, she took silver in the 200 breaststroke.

Additionally, world junior record holder Matt Sates might have been a contender for medals here but was sick right before the meet and is also focussing on the Commonwealth Games. Sates qualified for one final here, placing 8th overall in the 200 IM with a 1:58.27.

The closest any other African swimmer came to medalling here was Farida Osman from Egypt who was 4th in 50 butterfly with a 25.38 African record. She also finalled in the 100 butterfly with a 57.66. Osman has medalled at the past two World Championships, taking bronze in the 50 butterfly in both 2017 and 2019.


  • Egypt: Farida Osman, women’s 100 fly – 57.76 (African and Egyptian record)
  • Egypt: Farida Osman, women’s 50 fly – 25.38 (African record and Egyptian record)


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Lex Soft
7 months ago

Zane Waddell of RSA retired at the age of 22 after winning gold in men’s 50m backstroke at Gwangju 2019.

7 months ago

Probably never happened before an Italy, Lithuania and South Africa podium

7 months ago

Re RSA absentees; it has to be acknowledged that economics may’ve been a key factor with regards to which event to attend given RSA swimmers essentially have to self fund their own trips to most major events.

Therefore it may be the case that RSA CommGames federation may’ve offered some level of support as against RSA Swimming offering practically none, thus potentially making the decision for those swimmers understandable.