KIRSTY Coventry is almost certain to walk away with the Sportsperson of the Year Award when Zimbabwe’s outstanding athletes for the year 2004 are honoured at the Annual National Sports A
wards ceremony in Harare tonight.
The 21-year-old swimming sensation, the country’s best Olympian since 1ndependence 25 years ago, rose to stardom when she scooped three medals at the Athens Olympic Games in August. It was the first time Zimbabwe had won any Olympic medal since 1980 when the women’s hockey team shocked the sporting world by clinching gold at the Moscow Games in Russia.
Harare-born Coventry broke Zimbabwe’s medals jinx when she started with a silver medal in the 100m backstroke and a bronze in the 200m medley.
And when Zimbabweans from all walks of life were still celebrating in apparent contentment with two medals, the United States-based swimmer put the icing on the cake by bagging the big one, a gold 200m backstroke, beating pre-race favourates, Russian Stanislova Komorova and Japanese Riko Nakamura.
Coventry is also expected to win the Sportswoman of the Year Award.
Soccer star of the Year and Caps United wingback Cephas Chimedza, athlete Lewis Banda and Shooting’s Michael Nicholson will battle it out for the Sportsman of the Year award.
Disabled sprinter Elliot Mujaji was surprisingly confined to the Sportsman with a Disability category when he could have been a serious contender for Sportsman (of the Year after he defied poor preparations and half-hearted corporate support to retain his Paralympic Games 100m title in Athens.