SWIMMING icon Kirsty Coventry’s induction into the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOS) is quite an inspiring story.
She was ushered into immortality as part of the ISHOF’s 158th class in the United States on Saturday.
Michael Phelps, widely considered to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest Olympic swimmer of all-time, was also honoured at the same function.
When you are honoured on the same stage as the iconic Phelps then it tells the story that this is, indeed, a very special honour.
While it’s normal for the Americans and Australians to be honoured with immortality, when it comes to swimming, it’s rare that an African athlete is handed such an honour.
Even the organisers of the awards conceded as much in their statement that this was, indeed, special.
“Kirsty Coventry was honoured following a career that yielded seven Olympic medals,” the organisers said.
“Who would have thought such a run could be made by an athlete born in Zimbabwe, not exactly a hot bed for swimming.
“But, Coventry found a way, and provided proof that success can come from any location, as long as belief and hard work click in unison.”
Coventry is the most decorated African Olympian and the Minister of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture in this country.
She is one of the leading candidates to become the next International Olympic Committee president.
A true ambassador and role model for the African girl-child, Coventry’s star continues to shine even after her retirement.
The rapturous reception she received at the Parker House auditorium in Southern Florida shows that Coventry is a true icon.
This should give young swimmers in Zimbabwe hope to keep pursuing their dreams irrespective of the challenges which they face.
It also comes at a time when Zimbabwe Swimming chairperson, Zanele Nkomazana, has been investing in the training of young coaches.
They have already sent a young coach to Hungary on a scholarship to learn the ropes.
This shows that the future of swimming is in safe hands.
The hunt for the new Kirsty Coventry is well and truly underway and those who are running the sport cannot be faulted for trying their best to unearth the next gem.
Coventry’s expertise is still needed by swimming chiefs in Zimbabwe to ensure that we benefit from her.
Naming one of the roads or sporting facilities after Coventry should not be a problem.
She has made Zimbabwe and Africa proud after winning medals and trophies.
This makes her the perfect example of a resilient and focused athlete who defied the odds and conquered the world.
We can’t talk of swimming champions in the world without mentioning Coventry’s name.
She must also have honour in her homeland, which she has represented on the global platform with pride.
We should not wait for foreigners to remind us that Coventry is a world-renowned swimming icon.