“Sport has the power to bring us together but our Flag has the power to keep us united.” Kirsty Coventry
Kirsty Leigh Coventry was born on 16th September, 1983 in Harare, Zimbabwe to Rob and Lyn Coventry. She attended Dominican Convent High School, Harare, Zimbabwe. While at Auburn University, Alabama, USA, she swum competitively winning several medals.
A Woman of Great Worth
Coventry made her maiden debut at the world’s biggest sporting showcase as a sprightly 16-year-old Dominican Convent High School’s pupil at the 2000 Sydney Games in Australia.
She made top ten finalists for Zimbabwe National Sports Person of the Year in 1999. Swam at the All-Africa Games in the same year. Qualified at the South Africa Senior Championships for the Olympics in 100 backstroke, 200 IM, 100 freestyle and 50 free. In 1998, she competed in the Commonwealth Games where she made semi finals in the 200 IM.
In the year 2000, Coventry was named Zimbabwean’s Sports Woman of the Year for being the first Zimbabwean woman to reach the semi finals at the Olympics. She accomplished this feat while she was yet in high school.
Coventry Breaks World Swimming Record
The Zimbabwe swimmer, Kirsty Coventry, set a new world record of 2 minutes .91 seconds in the 200m backstroke, at the 9th FINA World Swimming Championship in Manchester, England. She had already won gold in the 100m backstroke and her first world record in the 400m Individual Medley.
Her time of four minutes and 26.52 seconds in the 400 meter Individual Medley at the 2004 Summer Olympics, in Athens, Greece makes her the fastest woman. There she won the Olympic medals; a gold, a silver, and a bronze.
In 2008, at the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, she won four medals; a gold, and three silver. For accomplishing this great feat, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe awarded her $100,000 US dollars in cash.
The Swimming Icon becomes an Inspiration to Children, Youth and Athletes
In 2012, she was elected to the IOC Athletes’ Commission where she will serve for eight years. A member of the ANOCA Athletes Commission and Vice-President of the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee.
In 2013, Coventry and her husband Tyrone Seward undertook a tour where she visited schools in all ten provinces of Zimbabwe. The tour gave her insight into the communities, to know what they needed and how she could use her experience in swimming to benefit them. The tour not only informed her vision to inspire children and youth to become their own heroes through the experience and knowledge she has gained as a swimming icon, it became also the source of her inspiration to launch HEROES; a scheme designed to empower children in her country through swimming, and in turn, build stronger and safer communities.
“Our vision is to provide a national program, which includes other sports to provide all Zimbabweans with greater opportunities. Our aim is to save lives through our drowning prevention and awareness activities, empower individuals through our coaching and learn to play programs and uplift communities through our Ambassador Program that focuses on health and education”, said Coventry
In 2017 Kirsty Coventry, launched HEROES. The scheme would tackle the issue of drowning in Zimbabwe and also address other critical issues like the number of children who are out of school, teen pregnancies, drug and alcohol abuse, gender-based violence, and child marriages.
The two time national Flag-bearer will be the Chef Mission for the Zimbabwe delegation at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018.