Kirsty Coventry honoured by IOC

Collin Matiza Sports Editor
ZIMBABWE’S swimming icon Kirsty Coventry has had another feather added to her already colourful post-retirement accomplishment hat as she was named by the International Olympic Committee as a member of the Evaluation Commission for the 4th Summer Youth Olympic Games which will be held in Africa in 2022.

According to the IOC, the Evaluation Commission’s members will be responsible for assisting and guiding the selection process to elect the African host of the 2022 Summer Youth Olympic Games.

IOC president Thomas Bach on Tuesday appointed Ugur Erdener, the IOC vice-president from Turkey, to lead a seven-member experienced team of their Evaluation Commission and it includes one of Africa’s most decorated swimmers Coventry of Zimbabwe.

The other members of the IOC Evaluation Commission for the 2022 Summer Youth Olympic Games are Beatrice Allen of Gambia, Chile’s Neven Ilic, Gunila Lindberg of Sweden, China’s Li Lingwei, Lydia Nsekera of Burundi and Papua New Guinea’s Auvita Rapilla.

Allen is the vice-president of the Gambia National Olympic Committee since 2009 and a member of the IOC starting in 2006, Illic is president of the Pan American Sports Organisation, Lindberg is currently the secretary-general of the Association of National Olympic Committees, Lingwei is a Chinese badminton player of the 1980s who ranks among the greatest in the history of the women’s game, Nsekera has been a member of the IOC since 2009 and in 2012 she was the first woman to be co-opted onto the world’s soccer governing body FIFA while the other member of the commission, Rapilla, is a Papuan woman who has been the Papua New Guinea Olympic Committee’s secretary-general since 2011. She was named onto the IOC in 2016.

But it is the inclusion of the legendary Zimbabwean swimmer Coventry as a member of this Evaluation Commission which surely raises her profile as one of the most fast-rising sports administrators in the world.

With seven Olympic medals – two golds, four silvers and one bronze – Coventry is the most decorated Olympian from Africa and since she retired from swimming after competing at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Brazil, she has been slowly climbing up the ladder of world sports administration.

In fact, in 2012, she was first elected to the IOC Athletes’ Commission and will serve as an IOC member for eight years.
In February this year, Coventry was unanimously elected to the Executive Board of the IOC. She was also recently elected Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission.

Before that, Coventry was elected as vice-president of the International Surfing Association (ISA) in September last year and she is also currently one of the two vice-presidents of the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee.

Coventry is regarded as the greatest swimmer from Africa, and one of the 10 best female swimmers ever. She won seven gold medals in two Olympics and she competed in five total Games between 2000 and 2016. She won the 200m backstroke gold medal in 2004 and 2008, and also won silver in the 100m backstroke in 2004 and 2008. She also won a silver in both Individual Medley finals in 2008.

Coventry’s one bronze came from 2004 where she came third in the 200 IM at the Athens Games.
She is also one of the few swimmers to reach an Olympic final in the same race four times, where she made four straight finals in the 200m backstroke from 2004-2016. As part of the Athletes’ Commission at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Coventry was giving out medals to some of her peers at the swimming medal ceremonies.

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