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Coventry Urges RSA To Seize The Day

Apr 19, 2013  - Craig Lord

Kirsty Coventry, Zimbabwe's Olympic swim star, has urged South Africa to seize the day and capitalise on the success of its two Olympic champions in the pool at London 2012, Cameron van der Burgh and Chad Le Clos.

Looking in on the pool problems that caused two days of cancellations at South African nationals in Port Elizabeth this week, Kirsty sympathised but chose the moment to tell South Africa to step up its game and avoid making the mistakes made by her own country in the wake of Coventry's own achievement as a seven-times Olympic medallist, world champion and record holder.

Coventry, who worked under the guidance of Kim Brackin at Auburn and elsewhere as an athlete and spent time training in South Africa, was elected to the IOC Athletes' Commission last year and will serve for eight years. Her comments are not so much aimed at swimming authorities as much bigger fish who have the power and the purse to make a difference. 

"It is such a pity that the South African Swimming Nationals have been such a problem this year," Coventry wrote on her Facebook page. "Cameron van der Burgh and Chad le Clos, both won Gold in the London Olympics yet South Africa seems to be dropping this opportunity created for them. Rather than increasing the possibility of more medals in Rio2016 by uplifting swimming they are doing the opposite. 

"Don't make the same mistake Zimbabwe did. I won Gold in 2004 and 2008 (a total of 7 Olympic medals) and very little, if anything, was done to uplift our sport or support it. Zimbabwe rested on its laurels and because of this we have gone backwards. We are working on bringing our sport up again and the last few years have seen some progress but it is hard work without the support required."