ZIMBABWE’S swimming sensation Kirsty Coventry will be out to score a hat-trick of victories in the women’s 200m backstroke event during the 2012 London Olympic Games in July. In London, Coventry (28) will be defending her women’s 200m backstroke title for the second time in a row after having retained it at the last Olympic Games in Beijing, China, four years
Coventry first won this title at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, before she successfully defended it at the Beijing Games in China four years later.
Today, the world’s most respected swimming magazine, Swimming World, looks at Coventry’s chances of winning the women’s 200m backstroke title for the third time in a row at this year’s Olympic Games in London.
Event: Women’s 200m backstroke
Reigning Champion: Kirsty Coventry (Zimbabwe). Past Champions: Lillian Watson (1968); Melissa Belote (1972); Ulrike Richter (1976); Rica Reinisch (1980); Jolanda de Rover (1984); Krisztina Egerszegi (1988); Krisztina Egerszegi (1992); Krisztina Egerszegi (1996); Diana Mocanu (2000); Kirsty Coventry (2004); Kirsty Coventry (2008).
World Record: Kirsty Coventry (Zimbabwe) 2:04.81.
Notable: If Kirsty Coventry can win a third consecutive victory in the 200 backstroke, she would become just the third woman to three-peat in any event, but the second in this discipline.
Hungarian Krisztina Egerszegi was the dominant performer in the late 1980s and first half of the 1990s.
The Headliners: One of several individuals in pursuit of an Olympic triple in a specific event, Kirsty Coventry won’t have an easy time defending her Olympic crown.
Not only is Coventry rebounding from injury, she’ll be dealing with a tough field, one which is highlighted by Missy Franklin, the American teenage phenomenon.
The reigning world champion in the 200m backstroke, Franklin, nearly broke the world record in Shanghai, China, last summer and should be the favourite entering London.
However, she will have some work to do at the United States Trials, where Elizabeth Beisel and Elizabeth Pelton will be vying for Olympic berths.
Both would be medal contenders if they earn a trip to London.
During the early stages of Olympic qualification, Russia’s Anastasia Zueva and Australian Belinda Hocking have been the only women to break the 2:07 barrier.
Hocking will be joined by her countrywoman Meagen Nay.
For the home crowd, it will have its support behind Elizabeth Simmonds, who was seventh at the last World Championships.
For the Dutch, it will bank on Sharon van Rouwendaal, who was the bronze medalist at the World Champs.
What Else?: It will be intriguing to see what Frenchwoman Laure Manaudou is capable of doing in this event.
We all know about Manaudou’s past exploits in the middle-distance freestyles and, given her prowess as a backstroker, she should be able to impress in this event, too.
Manaudou is a past Olympic medalist in the 100 back.