Penelope ("Penny") Heyns OIS (born 8 November 1974) is a South African former swimmer, who is best known for being the only woman in the history of the Olympic Games to have won both the 100 m and 200 m breaststroke events - at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games - making her South Africa's first post-apartheid Olympic gold medallist following South Africa's re-admission to the Games in 1992. Along with Australian champion Leisel Jones, Heyns is regarded as one of the greatest breaststroke swimmers.
Penelope Heyns in Times Square, New York (2015)
|Full name||Penelope Heyns|
|Born||8 November 1974|
|Height||5 ft 9 in (175 cm)|
|Weight||139 lb (63 kg)|
|College team||University of Nebraska, USA|
Heyns was the youngest member of the South African Olympic team at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. She was also a member of the South African squad at the 1994 Commonwealth Games, where she won a bronze medal in the 200 m breaststroke event.
Heyns broke her first world record, the 100 m breaststroke, in Durban in March 1996. Heyns was again part of the South African Olympic team in Atlanta in 1996, where she won the gold medal for the 100 m breaststroke (also breaking the world record for the event) as well as the gold medal for the 200 m breaststroke (also breaking the Olympic record for the event). This made her the only woman in the history of the Olympic Games to have won both the 100 m and 200 m breaststroke events. During the 1998 Goodwill Games in New York, Heyns set the 50 m breaststroke world record. In 1999, Heyns set a spate of eleven world records in three months, swimming at events on three different continents. This made her the simultaneous holder of five out of the possible six breaststroke world records, a feat that had never been achieved before in the history of swimming.
Heyns was named by Swimming World magazine as the Female World Swimmer of the Year in 1996 and 1999. She was also a member of the South African Olympic team at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. She won a bronze medal in the 100 m breaststroke.
Heyns retired from competitive swimming in 2001. In 2004 Heyns was an athlete's commission member of the International Swimming Federation (FINA). She is a businesswoman, motivational and public speaker, and television presenter. She has also completed an autobiography.
Heyns was voted 52nd in the Top 100 Great South Africans in 2004.
- "Today in History: Penny Heyns wins gold at 1996 Olympics". Roodepoort Northsider. 23 July 2018. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
- jonas (19 July 2012). "South African swimmer, Penny Heyns, wins a gold Medal at Atlanta Olympics". South African History Online. Retrieved 15 December 2018.