Kirsty Coventry set for comeback

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ZIMBABWE’S seven-time Olympic medalist Kirsty Coventry will make her much-awaited comeback to competitive swimming later this week when she takes part at the Austin Arena Pro Swim Series from Thursday to Saturday at the University of Texas in the United States.

DANIEL NHAKANISO
SPORTS REPORTER

Coventry, who has been training at her US base in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the past six months, will join an elite field of swimming stars at the high, profile meet as she starts her journey towards qualification for next year’s Rio Olympic Games.

The 31 year-old swimming icon, who is arguably Zimbabwe’s the most successful sportsperson will compete in the 100 and 200m backstroke and the 200m individual medley race.

“Global swim stars Katinka Hosszu, Natalie Coughlin, Nathan Adrian, Ryan Lochte, Tyler Clary, Katie Ledecky, and Matt Grevers headline the Arena Pro Swim Series (formerly Arena Grand Prix Series) in Austin next weekend.

“The African swim queen Kirsty Coventry announced her return to the pool via Facebook back in July and will have her out-of-retirement race debut in Austin,” its organisers said in a statement confirming Coventry’s participation.

“Coventry is a four-time (2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012) Olympian for Zimbabwe with seven Olympic medals to her name. She is entered in the 100 and 200 back, and 200 IM,” the statement read.

Kirsty Coventry
Kirsty Coventry

The three-day meet, which was formerly known as the USASwimming Grand Prix series will be Coventry’s first major swimming competition since announcing her intentions to compete at the 2016 Olympics in July last year.

“I will be competing at Rio2016 Olympics. This Olympics will be about how far I can push myself – it will be about finding the next level. To do this, I need to be confident. I am confident,” Coventry said then.

“We have already started building the ultimate team to assist me in getting to that next level. Econet Wireless and Arena International have given me their support and will help ensure I can focus on my goals. My coaches are David Marsh (Head Coach at SwimMac Team Elite) and Kim Brackin (Personal Coach: 2004, 2008, 2012 Olympics). I will be based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and training with swimmers at SwimMac Team Elite. I have purposefully surrounded myself by this team because they believe in me and together we will get there,” she said.

Coventry last took to the pool at the 2012 London Olympic Games where she failed to add a medal to her already impressive collection after dislocating a kneecap shortly before the global sporting showpiece.

The record breaking Zimbabwean swimming legend, who also sits on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athletes Commission, was one of the 10 local athletes to receive Olympic Athletes scholarships for the 2016 Olympic Games last year.

The other athletes are Chad Idensohn, James Lawson, Robyn Lee (all swimming), Peter Purcell-Gilpin, Micheen Thornycroft (both rowing), Wirimayi Juwawo, Ngonidzashe Makusha, Gabriel Mvumvure and Cuthbert Nyasango (all athletics).