Kirsty's selection gets thumbs up

HARARE - The local sporting fraternity has hailed the appointment of swimming icon Kirsty Coventry as Zimbabwe’s minister of Sports, Arts and Recreation by President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday.

She takes over from Kazembe Kazembe, who earlier had replaced Makhosini Hlongwane in November 2017.

Coventry is the most decorated female African Olympian swimmer with seven medals and is the only Zimbabwean to win individual Olympic medals.

The Aubum University-educated Coventry won back-to-back gold medals at the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympic Games as well as three silver medals and two bronze.

The Harare-born swimmer ended her highly-successful career with a sixth place finish in the 200m backstroke final during the 2016 Rio Olympics when she was 32.

The 200m backstroke was her signature event which she dominated for many years on the international stage.

Upon her retirement from the pool, she was elected to be one of the two Zimbabwe Olympic Committee (Zoc) vice presidents.

In February this year, Coventry was appointed International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) chairperson of the Athletes Commission.

The Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) led with congratulatory messages to Coventry.

“The SRC has received the news of the latest appointment of…Coventry with great joy and pleasure,” SRC spokesperson Tiri Nheweyembwa said.

“This is indeed a pleasant surprise but a well-deserved appointment to one of our most distinguished Sportspersons…This is not only a well-deserved appointment but one which augurs well for the agenda of sport and recreation in this country especially at this juncture.

“This is indeed a well-deserved appointment and it is our hope that she will together with the entire sport and recreation sector strike the right chord and move forward the agenda of sport in this country.”

Premier Soccer League giants Highlanders wrote on Twitter: “Congratulations to…Coventry for her appointment as the minister of Sports. We wish her all the best in her new office.”

National Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (NFZBBF) executive president Kenny Murugweni also congratulated Coventry adding they have faith in her abilities.

“On behalf of NFZBBF and indeed the fitness industry at large, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate…Coventry on her appointment ...,” Murungweni said.

“We have faith in her abilities. We trust her professionalism and above all we believe she has the right attitude with regards to sports development.”

Former Zimbabwe Cricket coach Steve Mangongo said: “Finally someone who understands sport is in charge, one of the best appointments of this Cabinet.

“It’s about time that Zimbabwe sports industry takes business seriously and hopefully Zimbabwe gets its place in the sun.”

Writing on Twitter, former Sables team manager Kisset Chirengende said: “…Coventry minister of Sports, is one of the most encouraging news I’ve heard regarding our country’s matrix in a while.”

Ever since her retirement, Coventry has played an active role in helping especially women athletes in terms of their welfare and training.

“We (women) were the only ones and I will say this numerous times; women athletes are the only ones that have won when representing Zimbabwe at the highest level and the only ones who have won medals for this country,” she said during a Zoc workshop held last year.

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