Kirsty Coventry elected to the IOC executive board

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Kirsty Coventry

Chipo Sabeta
Retired swimming sensation, Kirsty Coventry’s recent appointment proves that sport is a big industry during and after an active career.

This follows Coventry’s recent appointment as the incoming Chair of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athletes’ Commission.

She was unanimously elected to the Executive Board replacing outgoing Chair, Angela Ruggiero, at the winter Olympic Games which came to an end on Sunday in PyeongChang. Concurrently three athletes were also elected as IOC Members.

Sport has always been a popular recreational activity, but now it is much more than that. Underpinned by the rising profile of sports stars, rapid changes in sports management have seen sport become a big business.

Jobs and careers in the sport industry are seemingly endless and are as varied as the segments and businesses. It is an industry in which a person can often find success by linking an interest in sports with an interest in something else.

Kirsty, as an athlete and now as an international sports leader has become a role model and a huge inspirational figure to many women and young people across Africa and the world of sport.

Part of the national pride is also rooted in her latest successes of achievement as she continues to be an international sports star who is defying the curse of crumbling.

Affectionately known as Zimbabwe’s ‘Golden Girl’, Kirsty continues to invest her time and experience in Africa and has become one of the greatest icons in sport.

Coventry’s election to the executive board is also a reflection of the importance of aquatic sports within the Olympic movement and at the same time it gives a perfect example to Zimbabwe’s sportspeople that there is life after retiring.

Many sportspersons fear the unknowing factor about what will happen next after their careers are over but Coventry has turned out to be a global brand.

In his congratulatory message, acting Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) director general, Joseph Muchechetere, hailed Coventry for her sterling leadership qualities as an athlete and now as a leader.

Muchechetere is optimistic that her election is not only important to her career but to the nation and the globe at large.

“I would like to collectively congratulate (Dr) Kirsty Coventry on her election into the IOC Executive Board. This is indeed a milestone for our sport.

“This is a demonstration of confidence in her leadership which she has demonstrated beyond the field of play and which she has also excelled beyond doubt, as the most decorated African Olympian.

Her election into the IOC Executive Board is not only important to her as an individual but it has also set our beautiful nation on a higher footing than other nations. It is in this regard that as the SRC we would want to also implore other Sport Administrators to emulate Kirsty’s exploits by scaling to higher levels of Sport Administration,” Muchechere said.

“It is only through such election into influential sports bodies would we be able to influence decisions at a global level. We can only improve our situation if we are represented at the right level as our people will also be able to influence certain decisions. Once again on behalf of the SRC Board Management and Staff,” he added.

Other than her new responsibility, Coventry is a member of the ANOCA Athlete’s Commission. Vice-President of the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee provides coaching and swimming lessons at her non-profit organization, the Kirsty Coventry Academy, and has recently launched a program for low-income and underserved areas called Heroes.

Heroes provides free sporting activities to children in underserved areas of Zimbabwe. It is a community-based program that leverages on the power of sport as an effective method for tackling critical issues in these areas

Speaking after the appointment, Coventry, a five-time Olympian, underlined her desire to continue building and implementing the strategy. It seeks to empower athlete participation in the Olympic Movement decision-making process and support athletes’ development in their sporting and non-sporting careers.

“The main objective I would like to focus on is the implementation of this great strategy that we have all worked so hard to bring together,” said Coventry. “We also need to ensure we continue to improve and be proactive with our communications. This will help us to build a stronger global athlete community that is truly reflective of the athlete representatives,” she added.

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