Zimbabwe’s Kirsty Coventry appointed sport minister at age of 34

Latest official role for double Olympic champion and seven-time medallist

Africa’s most decorated Olympian Kirsty Coventry is Zimbabwe's new Minister of Youth Sport, Arts and Recreation.

The seven-time Olympic medal-winning swimmer was appointed to the 20-member cabinet by the president Emmerson Mnangawa, who won elections last July.

The 34-year-old is only the second woman in her country to serve in that post.

Various Sports Associations in Zimbabwe have hailed her appointment terming it a masterstroke.

Multiple medallist

Coventry's incredible sporting career stretches back to Sydney 2000 and included at five Olympic games before up to Rio 2016.

She won consecutive gold medals in the 200m backstroke at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.

In Their Own Words: Coventry's delight at hearing Zimbabwe national anthem

In Their Own Words: Coventry's delight at hearing Zimbabwe national anthem

With seven World championship titles and a record 14 African golds, she is also Africa’s most successful female swimmer.

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When I was 9 years old I told my Dad I wanted to go to the Olympics and win Gold. He told me it would be a rough road ahead, he explained how difficult it was just to make the Olympic Team let alone win a medal, but he believed in me. Both my parents believed in me, and so did my little sister, they never made me doubt myself. They put everything into my dream, from waking up at 4:30am for training to flipping burgers just to send me to competitions. They did everything they could to help me realize something that was near impossible, so I too did everything I needed to do to make it happen. I surrounded myself with positive people who believed in me and shared the same vision as me. I had Coach Charles Mathieson in Zimbabwe then Coach Kim Brackin in the US, I had less than a handful of friends in Zimbabwe (Jussy, Christo and Lauren) then had a swim team of friends at Auburn University. I missed out on so many 'fun nights out' and birthday parties, I missed friends weddings, I missed coming home and spending time with family, but these were just a few of the sacrifices I had to make to keep me on my path to becoming Olympic Champion. 14 years ago today, I made my dream come true. #Olympics #OlympicGold #Dream #Perseverance #Sacrifice #Believe #Goal #Swimming #Zimbabwe #Auburn #PositivePeople #Family

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A great leader

The 34-year-old has also had success out of the pool.

The vice president of the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee is an IOC member and currently chairs the IOC Athletes Commission.

She also serves on the board of the World Anti-Doping Agency, and FINA’s athlete commission.

Coventry is a member of the Tokyo 2020 Coordination Commission and a member of the Olympic Solidarity organisation.

She is a vice president of the International Surfing Association.

Zimbabwe’s golden girl runs an academy where she has been providing coaching and swimming lessons to children from deprived areas in her country.

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