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Penny Heyns

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 2
Silver 0
Bronze 1
Total 3
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
SexFemale
Full namePenelope "Penny"•Heyns
Used namePenny•Heyns
Born8 November 1974 in Springs (RSA)
Measurements174 cm / 63 kg
AffiliationsNebraska Cornhuskers, Lincoln (USA)
NOC(s) South Africa

Biography

The last gold medal won by South Africa prior to its boycott due to apartheid was won by Joan Harrison, in the women’s 100 metre backstroke. Almost 44 years later to the day, Penny Heyns succeed her compatriot, winning the 100 breaststroke and, two days later, the 200 breaststroke, also bettering the world record in the heats of the 100. This made her the first person to ever achieve the breaststroke double at the same Games (later also achieved by Domenico Fioravanti and Kosuke Kitajima), and the first South African since Charles Winslow to win two Olympic gold medals. Heyns could not reproduce this feat at the 1998 Worlds, placing out of the medals, and blamed this on her coach Jan Birdman having left for Canada, although she joined him for the next season. This proved fruitful, as she would be named World Swimmer of the Year for the second time (after 1996). Not only did she win three silvers at the World Short Course Championships and two golds at the Pan Pacific Championships, she bettered a world record eleven times. Between 17 July and 26 September, she bettered (and held) the world record in the 50 m (short-course (1) and long-course (1)), 100 m (short-course (2) and long-course (3)) and 200 m (long course (4)) breaststroke. Competing at the 2000 Olympics, Heyns was not in the same form, but still managed to earn a bronze in the 100 m. She retired directly after the Olympics, and now gives swimming clinics and motivational speaches.

Results

Games Discipline (Sport) Event Status Team Pos Details
1992 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) 100 metres Breaststroke, Women Olympic 33 Representing South Africa    
  200 metres Breaststroke, Women Olympic 34
  4 × 100 metres Medley Relay, Women Olympic South Africa 16
1996 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) 100 metres Breaststroke, Women Olympic 1 Gold Representing South Africa    
  200 metres Breaststroke, Women Olympic 1 Gold
  4 × 100 metres Medley Relay, Women Olympic South Africa 4
2000 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) 100 metres Breaststroke, Women Olympic 3 Bronze Representing South Africa    
  200 metres Breaststroke, Women Olympic 20

Olympic Records

Records may have been broken subsequently during the same competition.
Games Date Sport Event Phase Mark Pos
1996 Summer Olympics 21 July 1996 Swimming (Aquatics) 100 metres Breaststroke, Women Round One, Heat Six 1:07.02 WR 1
1996 Summer Olympics 23 July 1996 Swimming (Aquatics) 200 metres Breaststroke, Women Round One, Heat Four 2:26.63 1
1996 Summer Olympics 23 July 1996 Swimming (Aquatics) 200 metres Breaststroke, Women Final 2:25.41 1

Special Notes