Zimbabwe – Africa’s most decorated Olympian, Kirsty Coventry,may have swam her way to over 40 high profile medals and glory in her illustrious career but she probably never had a week in the headlines quite like this.
First the appointment, then a baby announcement, as Zimbabwe’s freshest Minister of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation crowned of a surreal week.
The former world record holder was sworn into H.E. Emmerson Mnangagwa’s cabinet on 10th September, four months after a huge debate had erupted on her Facebook page on whether or not she should be considered for a ministerial role.
While Africa was still getting used to the news, the young minister gave us another dose of kirstymania with the news that she and partner Tyrone Seward were expecting a baby. Her husband had been her manager since 2010, and after gossip circulated of an ongoing romance the couple finally got married in 2013 after Tyrone allegedly paid the bride price, or lobola of one cow and two chickens.
But Tyrone would know a cow and two chickens is nothing compared to sharing a baby with Zimbabwe’s grandest national treasure after wife Kirsty took to Facebook to announce, “We are going to be parents in May 2019. What a week, what a blessing!”
Funny! In May 2018, she was posting on social media about her activities and initiatives to aid refugees, empower women in sports and help as many children as possible. Exactly one year after, In May 2019, Kirsty herself would expect midwives and nurses to help with her own child when she is due for delivery.
And Oh, it was incidentally that same month, May 2018, when she first declared her readiness to assist whoever became Zimbabwe’s first president after Mugabe’s near 40-year leadership.
A vibrant discussion was generated thereafter on her social media platform amongst Coventry’s fans when one user suggested that the former record holder for swimming at both the World Championships and Olympics deserved a political appointment for her experience, résumé and spirit as an individual and contributions to her country both as a sporting ambassador and charity work.
Kirsty asked at the time “should athletes get involved in politics?”before keeping a loud silence many casual observers interpreted as disinterest in the matter.
Then voila! Out of the blue, the appointment followed. Accepting the Cabinet role, she posted to her official twitter at the time “I believe I was appointed because of my experience… independence and integrity. This is extremely important for me to maintain if I am to get the results expected of me.”
And we don’t doubt her. She’s brought glory to her nation and Africa before. She has overachieved in a field where people thought was reserved for others. She is used to achieving, and as a swimmer she certainly knows how to hold her head under water and plunge against the tide.