Kirsty Coventry from Zimbabwe competes (Photo credit: Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

From : Bulawayo24.com
By : Staff Reporter
30 November 2011

The Zimbabwean swimming sensation, Kirsty Coventry was on Tuesday named as the Female African Swimmer of the Year for 2011 after her exploits in the pool at this year’s 10th All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique, where she contributed four of Zimbabwe’s six gold medals.

The well respected United States-based swimming magazine, Swimming World, in its eighth annual African Swimmers of the   Year awards, which were inaugurated in 2004, also named

South Africa’s Cameron van der Burgh as the Male African Swimmer of the Year for 2011.

In its December issue, Swimming World features the longest running and most prestigious award in the sport of swimming and it duly named Coventry as the best female swimmer in Africa for 2011.

And this has seen the 28-year-old Zimbabwean swimming icon lifting this prestigious award for the sixth time since its inception in 2004.

Coventry also won the same award  in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009 before  collecting it again for a record sixth time this year.

She first won the Female African Swimmer of the Year in 2004 after she harvested a full set of medals – one gold, one silver and one bronze – at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

At the Athens Games, Coventry first announced her arrival at the world’s biggest sporting showcase by scooping a silver medal in the 100m backstroke.

She followed this up by winning a  bronze medal in the 200m individual medley before she “mined” the big one – a gold medal in her favourite stroke, the 200m backstroke.

And this saw her emerging as the new heroine of Zimbabwean sport – the greatest African swimmer of all time and  the most successful African athlete at a single Olympic Games showcase.
But Coventry was not finished yet.

Four years later – August 2008 to be      exact Coventry was back at the Olympic Games in Beijing, China, and she proved that her three-medal winning performance at the Athens Games was no fluke when she grabbed four medals – one gold and three silvers.

She won the three silver medals in the 400m individual medley, 100m backstroke and 200 individual medley before she successfully defended her 200m backstroke title.

The four-medal haul at the Beijing Games were good enough to see Coventry being named as the Female African Swimmer  of the Year for 2008, lifting the coveted prize for the fourth time in her illustrious career.

Coventry retained the award in 2009 before losing it to Mandy Loots of South Africa in 2010.
But Coventry made sure that the award returned to its “home” in Zimbabwe this year when she scooped four gold medals at the 10th All Africa Games in Maputo in September this year.

The talented Zimbabwean swimmer picked up the four gold medals when romping to victory in the 100m and 200m backstroke, and 200 and 400m individual medley events.

At the same meet in Maputo, Coventry also won a silver medal in the 100m butterfly before she helped the Zimbabwe women’s relay team to win three medals of the same colour in the 4x100m medley, 4×100 freestyle and 4x200m freestyle events.

This brought her total medal haul at the Maputo Games to eight — four gold and four silver — and it came as no surprise when Swimming World crowned her as the Female African Swimmer of the Year for 2011 in its December issue on Tuesday.

Coventry is also in the running for the Zimbabwe Sportsperson of the Year award for 2011.
Here is how the Top 5 rankings in each region worked out in Africa (Swimming World included first place votes for the first time as part of its voting structure):
2011 Africa Female Swimmer of the Year (Parenthesis indicates first place votes)

1. Kirsty Coventry, Zimbabwe (11). 2 Wendy Trott, South Africa (7). 3 Sara  El Bekri, Morocco. 4 Farida Hisham Osman, Egypt (1). 5 Vanessa Mohr, RSA.

2011 African Male Swimmer of the Year
1 Cameron van der Burgh, South Africa (18). 2 Ous Mellouli, Tunisia (1). 3 Gerhard Zandberg, South Africa. 4 Jason Dunford, Kenya. 5 Chad Le Clos, South Africa.

Previous African Swimmers of the Year
2010: Mandy Loots, RSA; Cameron van der Burgh, RSA; 2009: Kirsty Coventry, Zimbabwe; Ous Mellouli, Tunisia/Cameron van der Burgh, RSA. 2008: Kirsty Coventry, Zimbabwe; Ous Mellouli, Tunisia. 2007: Kirsty Coventry, Zimbabwe; Roland Shoeman, RSA 2006: Suzaan Van Biljon, RSA Roland Shoeman, RSA 2005: Kirsty Coventry, Zimbabwe; Roland Shoeman, RSA. 2004: Kirsty Coventry, Zimbabwe; Roland Shoeman, RSA.