Swimming icon Kirsty Coventry is set to grace the 2011 edition of the Annual National Sports Awards (Ansa) gala tomorrow evening at a local hotel where local sports personalities who made outstanding achievements for the 2011 sporting year will be honoured.
Initially Coventry, who was last Friday named among the 21 candidates vying for election to the International Olympic Committee athletes’ commission, had been expected to miss the awards as she is currently preparing for the London Olympic Games in Monaco.
The Sports and Recreation Commission’s public relations officer Tirivashe Nheweyembwa, however, confirmed to NewsDay Sport Coventry would be present tomorrow.
“Initially it was not clear whether she (Kirsty Coventry) would be able to make it for the event because of her training schedule for the Olympics in Monaco.
“However, we have now received confirmation from Kirsty, stating she will attend the Ansa.
“We expect Coventry in the country either tomorrow (today) or on Thursday morning (tomorrow) while Takanyi Garanganga and Stephen Muzhingi are already in the country,” said Nheweyembwa.
Coventry confirmed on the social networking site Twitter she was on her way back into the country.
“We are flying to Johannesburg tonight (last night).
Summer here we come,” was her initial post yesterday, when asked by this reporter if she was coming for the Ansa awards.
She said: “Yes. If I can get on a flight from Jo’burg to Harare.”
The celebrated swimmer is one of the favourites for the prestigious Sportsperson of the Year Award and the Sportswoman of the Year after she contributed four of Zimbabwe’s six gold medals at the All-Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique.
For the sportswoman of the year award Coventry will also face competition from fellow swimmer and former NewsDay intern Nicole Horn and golfer Claire Minter.
Garanganga and Muzhingi will also battle it out with chess master Robert Gwaze in the Sportsman of the Year.
Former world shooting champion Dave Westerhout, one of Zimbabwe’s sporting legends on the country’s sporting Hall of Fame, will be the guest of honour at the awards ceremony.
In the junior Sportswoman of the Year category, Laurelle Brown in triathlon will battle it out with athlete Thandiwe Nyathi and swimmer Samantha Welch.
Teenage swimming sensation James Lawson looks set to get first prize in the Junior Sportsperson of the Year although he faces stiff competition from Mathew Denslow of BMX and James Fraser of Rowing.
In the Team of the Year category it is going to be tight affair between the women’s senior national team, Mighty Warriors, the revived rugby national team affectionately known as the Sables and their junior counterparts, the Zimbabwe Rugby Under-19 team.
Rosemary Mugadza, the Mighty Warriors coach, is tipped to walk away with the Coach of the Year accolade, but also in contention are the rugby Under-19 mentor Brighton Chivandire and Sables gaffer Brendan Dawson.
A package of $30 000 has been set aside as prize money for the winners.