Collin Matiza Sports Editor
KIRSTY Coventry has qualified to represent Zimbabwe in the women’s 100m backstroke event at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, despite failing to make it into the final of the same stroke at the on-going 16th FINA World Swimming Championships in Kazan, Russia, on Monday night.
The 32-year-old Zimbabwean swimming icon booked her place in the women’s 100m backstroke event at the Rio Games after finishing 10th overall after clocking 1:00.09 in the semi-finals but she unfortunately failed to qualify for the final which was scheduled for last night.
She had qualified for the semis after posting 1:00.14 in the opening heats on Monday morning, which was Day Two of the swimming competition at this year’s World Championships which end on Sunday in Kazan.
Coventry’s 10th place finish in the women’s 100m backstroke semi-finals on Monday night was, however, good enough to book her a place at the Rio Games and this will see her carrying the Zimbabwean flag at the world’s biggest sporting showcase for a record fifth time in a row after having made her debut appearance at the Olympics as a sprightly 16-year-old Dominican Convent High School girl in Sydney, Australia, way back in 2000.
And Coventry could not hide her excitement after her latest achievement on Monday night despite her failure to make it into the final of the women’s 100m backstroke event at the World Championships.
“I have qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games! My 5th Olympic Games!
“I came 10th in the 100m backstroke. My time was 1.00.09, a huge improvement over the last few months — and I will not stop improving!
“Thank you Econet Zimbabwe and all of you, for your amazing support,” Coventry wrote on her Facebook wall after Monday night’s women’s 100m backstroke semi-finals at the World Championships in Kazan.
Titus Zvomuya, the chef de mission of Team Zimbabwe for the 2016 Rio Games, was among the first people to congratulate Coventry for qualifying for next year’s Games.
“Well done Kirsty. We are proud of you. Rio here we come,” Zvomuya also posted on Coventry’s Facebook wall yesterday.
Anna Mguni, the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee chief executive, also chipped in saying on the same Facebook wall platform: “Good job Kirsty!!”
And Douglas Zimbudzi, a fan of Coventry added: “Can anything good come out of Zimbabwe? . . . Yes, we have KIRSTY COVENTRY! . . . Go little Sisi go, go and Konga (conquer) the World for your Country!”
The women’s 100m backstroke competition was a hotly-contested event at this year’s World Championships with all the “top guns” in attendance.
After posting the fastest time during the preliminaries of the women’s 100 backstroke on Monday morning, Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu scratched from the event, opening it up again for Australia’s Emily Seebohm.
Seebohm took advantage of her semi-final swim, posting the fastest time of the session with a time of 58.56. Mie Nielsen posted the second fastest time of the semi-final heats with a 58.84.
Seebohm’s teammate, Madison Wilson, qualified in third with her time of 59.05. Fu Yuanhui finished just ahead of the 2013 World Champion, Missy Franklin of the United States, for fourth place with her time of 59.33. Franklin finished fifth with a 59.42.
Anastasia Fesikova (Russia), Kathleen Baker (USA), and Lauren Quigley (Great Britain) were the final three swimmers to qualify for last night’s final.