Kirsty Coventry’s bid to win a medal in the 100m backstroke at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro ended at the semi-final stage after the swimming icon finished sixth in her heat.
Only the four top swimmers from the heat qualified for the final. Coventry, the continent’s greatest Olympian, was well beaten by her rivals led by American swimmer Kathleen Baker who won the race in 58.84s.
Katinka Hosszu of Hungary was second in 58.94s with Chinese swimmer Yuanhui Fu taking third place in 58.95s. Kylee Masse finished fourth of Canada finished fourth in 59.06s.
Coventry could only finish in sixth place in 1 min 0.3s.
“I wanted to make Finals in the 100 Backstroke tonight but didn’t,” Coventry said on Instagram. “I have to remind myself that I came 11th in the World at my 5th Olympics and I have always represented Zimbabwe, my friends and family to the best of my ability.
Please keep up the support as I race #JustOneMore on the 11th and 12th in my favourite event – the 200m Backstroke.”
Coventry said she was disappointed.
“I am not happy with it. I wanted it to be quicker. You know, I knew for this race it was going to be really hard to make finals. But I would have loved just gone out on a 59:9 even,” she told Zimpapers’ Spencer Banda who is in Rio.
“I reaped my suit right before (the race) and had to take it off and put on a new one.”
Coventry got her first medals at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, where she won one gold, a silver and a bronze medal.
The swimming sensation went on to claim four medals – one gold and three silvers – at the 2008 Beijing Games in China.
However, at the 2012 London Games she found the going tough when she finished sixth in both the 200m backstroke and 200m individual medley events.
Her two Olympic gold medals in 2004 and 2008 came from the 200m backstroke event, which is one of her favourite events.
The swimming icon has won seven of Zimbabwe’s eight Olympic medals since Independence.
Though she was three spots away from making the final of the 100m backstroke event, it’s not so much about times these days for her.
She is the greatest female Olympic swimmer in African history, having won seven Olympic medals in her career.
Coventry’s meet in Rio won’t be defined by whether or not she can take home more hardware – rather, she’s further solidifying her place as one of the greatest African Olympians of all time.
While Coventry has just completed her first event, another Zimbabwean swimmer Sean Gunn, who is representing the county in the men’s 100m freestyle, will be in action today.
Another Zimbabwe athlete, rower Andrew Peebles, also failed to make the final after finishing third in his heat after leading for the pack for the majority of the battle.
Micheen Thonycroft, another rower, will battle in the quarter-finals in Brazil today. The Herald