Olypmic champion Kirsty Coventry picks up a second gold medal in Montreal
Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry celebrates her gold medal in the finals of women's 100m backstroke at the World Aquatics Championships in Montreal. (AP Photo/Frank Gunn, CP)
Kirsty Coventy has won two gold medals for Zimbabwe. She became the first Zimbabwean to win an Olympic swimming gold when she took the 200 meters backstroke title in Athens last year. On Tuesday she won the final of the women's 100 meters backstroke at the world championships in Montreal, adding gold to the silver she won in the 200 meters individual medley on Monday.
"I am very proud to be allowed to represent Zimbabwe", she said after her victory, "it will give hope to the people back home"
To outsiders, this is a surprising remark coming from a white Zimbabwean. White minority farmers in the former British colony of Rhodesia have been terrorised and robbed of their land by Mugabe's regime. Kirsty Coventry's parents Rob and Lynn run a chemical company and appear to have been spared the worst of Mugabe's excesses. Other relatives, though, were less fortunate.
Mugabe has said he wants to fill the hearts of all whites with fear, but curiously this does not apply to Kirsty Coventry. After winning her gold medal in Athens, she became a hero in Zimbabwe. Thousands lined the streets waving banners praising the "sports princess". Countless new born babies have since been named after her. Mugabe sent a fleet of Mercedes to pick her up from the airport and then dined in person with her and her parents. There was fifty thousand US dollars in it for Kirsty Coventry and then she flew back to the United States, where she is studying hotel and restaurant management at a university in Alabama. Whatever the gold medal winner thinks of Mugabe and his regime, she keeps it to herself.