By Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S leading sports personalities have hailed the appointment of swimming legend Kirsty Coventry as the new Minister of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation.
The 34 year-old seven-time Olympic medalist became the first Zimbabwean sporting figure to be appointed as a cabinet minister.
Her announcement as one of the country’s 20 substantive ministers was made by the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda who was flanked by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga at State House on Friday.
Coventry, who retired from international swimming after the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, replaces Kazembe Kazembe, who was reassigned to the Ministry of Information Communication Technology Courier Services.
However, it was Coventry’s appointment which generated a lot of excitement especially amongst some of the country’s leading sports personalities after one of their own was finally given the responsibility to head the Sports Ministry.
Motor racing star Axcil Jefferies, who hopes to become the first African driver in the modern era to compete in the Formula One led the tributes to the retired swimming icon, who represented the country at five Olympic Games.
“Congratulations Kirsty Coventry on being appointed new Minister of Sport in Zimbabwe. Finally an experienced and qualified athlete with the credentials for the position,” Jefferies said.
Zimbabwe cricket team star Sikandar Raza said Coventry’s appointment was worthy recognition for one of the country’s finest athletes.
“What a great news for the whole country that @KirstyCoventry is the new Minister of Sports. A Legend, who represented Zimbabwe everywhere, flew the flag high and won so many medals for the Country. She knows exactly what needs to be done to turn the whole thing around,” Raza said.
Former national cricket team captain Graeme Cremer said Coventry’s appointment was welcome news to Zimbabwe’s women and sports personalities.
“Congratulations @KirstyCoventry such awesome news for all sportsmen and women in Zimbabwe,” he said.
The appointment of Coventry as Sports Minister follows yet another appointment as a member to the influential International Olympic Committee and election as chairperson of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, the body that represents all Olympic athletes worldwide.
Coventry, who is also the vice-president of the International Surfing Association, also spearheads various projects including her swimming academy (the Kirsty Coventry Academy) which she set up in 2015 in an effort to reduce drowning incidences by training coaches, utilising water safety and drowning prevention campaigns.