Tafadzwa Zimoyo Senior Lifestyle Writer
Yes, there is a new wave of superstars coming up, we warn you!
Is it a mermaid?
Oh no, it is 17-year-old, Donata Katai, whose dream was to be like former swimmer cum Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Kirsty Coventry.
Today she is basking in glory after taking part in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
In fact, she has become the first black Zimbabwean swimmer to compete at the Olympics. Now back home, welcomed by parents at the Robert Mugabe International Airport on Thursday, the teenager beamed with a smile after hugging both parents.
When her mother Desdemona saw her on television last week taking part in the Olympics, she shed a tear and said “So all these years have paid off. I am proud of you.”
The Gateway High student has just become a role model to many young girls, who knows in future we will be having many daughters born named after her.
Remember what happened with swimmer Kirsty Coventry, who became a darling to everyone, during her period some family named their daughters Kirsty.
But wait a minute. Most people know Donata now after being selected to take part in the Olympics, she was unheralded. The Herald on Saturday Lifestyle, was at the airport when the swimming sensation arrived back home.
In an interview, she said that she picked priceless lessons at the Tokyo Olympics in Japan which will help her develop her career further. She finished 34th , in the overall ratings, out of 41 swimmers, but posted a personal best time in the event.
“It was a learning curve. I didn’t win but I picked a lot of positives. To be at the Olympics was amazing and a dream come true. I can say that this is just the beginning for greater things ahead,” she said.
Some were of the opinion that the talented swimmer was of mixed race while others believed that she was of Shona origin but her parents cleared the air.
“Her dad’s grandfather is Ndebele while my grandfather is Shona. My husband’s father is white Italian and my grandmother is white Scottish. Yes, she doesn’t speak Shona but understands the language very well. Her totem is Shiri,” explained the mother.
She said Donata was born May 7, 2004 at the Avenues Clinic in Harare.
“She was born of parents Desdemona and Luigi Katai. We have four children, Donata, Joshua, Christian and Lynale.
She went to Gateway Primary School and now is with Gateway High School,” said Desdemona. Donata was discovered by coach Sandy at the age of 4, where she started swimming and did not stop.
“Her role model is Kirsty Coventry because she is so successful and because she put Zimbabwe on the world map,” said the mother.
Father Luigi said her daughter is very humble and a quiet person.
“She grew up in Sentosa and her friends are Riquayya, Renata, Rutendo and Ella. The girls have been friends from as early as grade 4. They are very familiar with each other and stand behind her fully,” he said.
He added that she does a lot of training in the pool under Mrs Lobb and in the gym with Keegan Cook and that has made her stay in shape. Donata goes to New Life Covenant Church and she loves to eat pasta.
“Yes, to us she is a normal child, she does household chores, wash the dishes,” he said.
Donata said she was shocked after she was selected to be in the Olympics team. “It was thrilling and scary as well but then it became just amazing that I could represent the country in such a big way. It motivated me to work hard towards the event,” she said.
“The best advice I can give to my peers is, “Go hard or go home”. The teen said if she was not into swimming, definitely she was going to be a hockey player.
“I love sport and probably if I wasn’t into swimming I would be playing hockey. My favourite television program is “The Good Doctor”. My strength in swimming is backstroke. I am a girly-girl and in a fashion sense I can say I am more decent, cool and coordinated,” she described herself.
Asked how she is living with celebrity status:
“I can say I am humbled and focussed. Being a celebrity is great tough. I still visit my grand aunt in the rural areas in Seke. I also like travelling and my favourite destination is Nyanga. I don’t drive and don’t even own a car but it’s on my priority list this year to get a license. My greatest wish is to do well and look after my parents. At home I am just a normal teenager who is always happy,” explained Donata.
Surprisingly the girl has many talents as she is also good into hockey, tennis and athletics.
This event is predominately 16 – 18 year old professional swimmers from all over the world. She participated to gauge where she would rank in the world.
She was ranked 25th for Backstroke 50 meters
30th for butterfly 50 meters
41st for 100 meters backstroke- prior to this she was ranked 70th.