By Munyaradzi Madzokere
OLYMPIC gold medallist and Zimbabwe’s Sports minister Kirsty Coventry has urged teenage swimming phenomenon Donata Katai to start comparing herself regionally, continentally and internationally if she is to grow in her swimming career.
Katai has been causing a stir in the swimming fraternity after she broke one of Coventry’s national records earlier this year while she recently won two gold medals at the CANA Junior African Swimming Championships in Tunisia this month.
Parallels have been drawn between the two with the young swimmer being touted as the next Kirsty Coventry.
“The one thing that I hope Donata is doing is comparing herself regionally and continentally and internationally because that’s where we need to start looking, not her old results or a record that was posted nearly 20 years ago,” Coventry said in an exclusive interview with The Sports Hub.
Coventry says she has no problem with Katai breaking her records and wishes someone had done it sooner.
“I think it’s very exciting for Zimbabwean sport. I had someone asking me that aren’t you sad about your records being broken and I’m like no, I wish they’d been broken sooner because that means there are more and more people coming up and I think that’s something we’ve been missing in our sport.
“I hope she’s looking at those international standards and training towards being competitive at it at the international stage. She obviously has the talent and the drive and I hope she starts looking at all those to continue pushing herself,” Coventry said.
Coventry is the most decorated Olympian from Africa in swimming with seven medals, two of them gold.
Interestingly, Katai, who is inspired by Coventry’s Olympic achievements, is excelling in backstroke swimming in which her idol enjoyed much success.