Coventry lands top African gong

HARARE - Zimbabwe's swimming sensation Kirsty Coventry added another feather to her illustrious cap in Johannesburg on Saturday night when she won the 2016 African Union Sport Council RASA Region5 Sportswoman of Year award.

The Harare-born swimmer bagged the award ahead of South Africa’s cycling star Ashleigh Pasio Moolman and Mozambique’s athletics queen Edmilsa Governo.

Coventry will hope to draw encouragement from the accolade as she prepare for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro scheduled for August.

Regarded among Africa’s greatest Olympic icons, Coventry continues to overcome advanced age and recurring injuries to keep competing.

The 32-year-old’s circumstances have not deterred her from dreaming of immortalising her name in the history books as the greatest female swimmer of all-time.

To do this she needs to land Olympic medal number eight to add one more medal to the seven she already has.

Ahead of her fifth Olympiad in Rio, Coventry is tied with Hungarian great Krisztina Egerszegi, winner of consecutive gold medals in the 200m backstroke in 1988, 1992 and 1996.

Zimbabwe was to again come good in the African Union Sport Council RASA Region5 Sports Journalist of the Year category which was won by Farayi Machamire “for excellence in scribing and interpreting actions on the field, track and pools,” read the judges citation.

The Daily News writer won the award ahead of Sheefeni Nicodemus from the Namibian and Sunday Times sports editor Batho Bareng Kortjaas.

Elsewhere on the night, Swimming South Africa’s Graham Hill won the Coach of the Year, Ilse Hayes bagged Sportswoman of the Year with a Disability and the Springbok Sevens team walked away with the Team of the Year Award.

South Africa’s Wayde Van Niekerk picked up the Sportsman of the Year award while Botswana’s young swimming star Noami Ruele took home the Junior Sportswoman of the Year award.

Botswana’s athletics princess Baboloki Thebe won the Junior Sportsman of the Year.

Meanwhile, the chairperson of AUSC Region 5 Award went to Zambia “for their sportspersons, coaches and excellent administration.”

The AUSC is the sports arm of the African Union, previously called the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).

The main aim of the AUSC is to use sports to achieve peace, integration and unity in Africa i.e sport as a vehicle of encouraging people to develop and come together, irrespective of colour, economic status, political, class, or gender.

The AUSC divided Africa into seven competition zones due to the vastness of the continent.

Zimbabwe forms part of the Southern Region (Region5) headquartered in Botswana and comprising Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and South Africa.

Zimbabwe’s other nominees on the night were 2014 Youth Olympics rowing participant Kyle Hinde in the Junior Sportsman of the Year category, rising motocross star Tanyaradzwa Muzinda ( Junior Sportswoman of the Year), pugilists Charles Manyuchi (Sportsman of the Year) , athletics Luck Chitembe (Sportsman of the year with a Disability), Dadirai Jack (Sportswoman of the year with disability), Senior Netball National Team (Sports team of the Year) and netball coach Ledwin Dondo (Coach of the year ).

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