The South African finished third in Rio, behind British brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee, yet he claims many critics felt he was lucky.
To prove he wasn’t, the 25-year-old then went and won the final event of the World Series season at Cozumel, Mexico, on September 19.
Despite his obvious talent, Schoeman says he will head into the 2017 season looking to prove more people wrong.
“All the pressure was off after the Olympics I thought but there was actually a lot more pressure that came on me after Rio,” said the Vereeniging native.
“Going in I was an underdog, I wasn’t in the limelight, but I knew my training had gone to plan, I was in the best shape possible and I was confident, I believed in myself. I knew if I executed everything well on the day then a medal was possible, and it paid off.
“A lot of people wrote me off as a one hit wonder so there was pressure. There were articles leading up to the World Series Grand Final writing me off.
“I like to prove people wrong though so that motivates me even more. I went into the race very relaxed and wanted to enjoy it, the biggest race of the year was done, I’d accomplished what I’d set out to do and I went there to have fun.
“To win that race was phenomenal and I was very excited, but there’s more to come and exciting times ahead. It was a dream come true to win the medal in Rio and then a gold at the Grand Final, so it was a fantastic end to the year and I’m looking to build on it next season.”
The 2017 season starts for the third time in the Emirates, with the opening leg of the World Series returning to the UAE capital on March 3-4, albeit with a new venue at Yas Island.
And with no Olympics to sway his focus, Schoeman insists he wants an overall series medal next year.
“The big plan last year was the Olympics and a lot of athletes sacrificed the World Series for that, but this year it’s going to be very competitive,” said Schoeman, whose older brother Riaan swam for South Africa at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
“2017 is going to be a big year for me. I want to do well in all the series. I have plans to win the World Series and be world champion and then take the top step in four or eight years’ time at the Olympics.”
One person who certainly isn’t taking Schoeman lightly is compatriot Richard Murray, who also confirmed his attendance for the 2017 season opener this week.
“People didn’t really know who he was before [the Olympics] and might have thought ‘where did he come from?’, but he’s always been there,” said Murray, 27, who has a third and second place finish at the two previous Abu Dhabi events.
“He’s been getting better and better the last few years, especially his running has been improving. His swimming and biking has always been good. His medal goes to show he’s been putting the work in and I couldn’t be happier for him.
“I expect a big season from him. Last season was his first really good season. He was in the top 10 two years ago and fourth last year, so I definitely see him going for a higher ranking next season.”
For Till Schramm, the third time really was the charm.
After consecutive years of finishing second in the Dubai International Triathlon, the German finally got over the hump by crossing the finish line first in the event’s third edition at Jebel Ali Waterfront on Saturday.
Schramm crossed in a time of 4:11:42 to complete the half iron distance consisting of a 1.9km swim, 90km bike ride and 21.1km looped run.
“That’s awesome,” Schramm said of finally winning. “I would have preferred a stronger pro-field as I was in top shape at the start line and did not to race at maximum.”
Leading up to the race, Schramm had been putting in work this triathlon season, winning several races including the OSTEEMAN full iron distance in Germany.
When asked what his motivation was to finally grab first and continue doing triathlons, Schramm answered: “My family and triathlon itself. I love the sport and don’t need a real motivation to do it.
“Well, days in Germany with five degree Celsius temperature and rain are the bit I need to remind myself about some goals.”
Great Britain’s Lucy Woollacott, meanwhile, paced the women with a time of 4:54:56.
It was her second time competing at the Dubai International Triathlon, with her first experience back in 2014 marking just her second triathlon overall.
With added experience under her belt, Woollacott showed her improvement with a time she said was nearly 10 minutes faster than the one two years ago.
“It was a really hard race out there. It was hot on that run in particular, so I’m really pleased, especially with the time,” she said.
Woollacott also had high praise for the event, which is organised by Race ME and had around 900 people turn out for another challenging course.
“I think it’s really nicely run,” she said. “It’s very friendly and it’s more of a local race, so the big brand Ironman races are very different than this, they’re much more commercial. This is much more friendly and fun.”
One of the only off-road triathlons in the Middle East, the event will take place in Kalba on the outskirts of Sharjah on Saturday, March 26.
The triathlon is organised by Urban Ultra and sponsored by Shurooq, contributing a Dh20,000 pro-athlete prize fund, and is entering its second edition following a successful launch in October 2015.
Triathletes will be able to compete as individuals or as teams to swim in the tranquil waters of Kalba’s protected lagoon, mountain bike over the hills in the mountainous region and finally trail run on goat and donkey trails.
Various distances are on offer for triathlon novices to the more experienced triathletes.
The sport distance includes a 750 metre sea swim, an 18.5 kilometre mountain bike and a 5km trail run, while the championship distance is extended to a 1.5km swim, a 35km mountain bike and a 10km run.
For those who want to stay over, camping by the sea is available, as well as the Kalba Camp, which comes with natural stone and wooden buildings, a fire pit and an outdoor dining area.
The cost of the dormitory-style rooms are Dh100 per person or Dh375 for a twin room with an en-suite bathroom.
To make your booking, visit www.adventure.ae/accommodation/kalba-camp/ or call 04 392 6463.
If you’re in need of a bike for the race, bikes are available for rent from BeSport and Adventure HQ.
Registration for the race will be open until midnight on Saturday, March 19, but could close sooner if places sell out.
Join all the other triathletes on the day before the race for a social gathering on Friday, March 25.
Meet fellow participants and be ready for the event, which will take place bright and early the following day at 07:00.
What: Urban-Ultra X-Tri Cross Country Triathlon
Where: Kalba, Sharjah
When: Saturday, March 26 at 07:00, with a social gathering on Friday, March 25. Registration closes at midnight on Saturday, March 19
Contact: Visit www.urban-ultra.com and www.premieronline.com to sign up and for more information