Thursday, July 19, 2007

Zimbabwe Wonder Woman

Zimbabwe's Coventry wins fifth swimming gold at Africa Games

Wed 18 Jul 2007, 5:23 GMT

Zimbabwe's double Olympic champion Kirsty Coventry won her fifth swimming gold at the All Africa Games after another evening in which South Africa dominated swimming in the capital Algiers on Tuesday.

But the swimming competition was almost marred by a rowdy crowd who hurled three empty bottles into the pool, reviving memories of the Arab Games three years ago when swimming was scrapped from the programme following crowd trouble.

I flew over to interview Kirsty and asked her what incentives brought her this latest success. She told me that at first she couldn’t be arsed because the bottles that had been thrown into the pool had no deposit on them and therefore useless. She then went on to say,

‘But, when my trainer lowered a pair of Bata (Get Smarter, Wear Bata) ‘tackies’ (popular white plimsolls), on a piece of string with the new government enforced price reduction tag on them, I just had to get them before the other girls.’

She continued, ‘it is hard to get around these days in Zimbabwe, what with the west stealing all the petrol and stuff, ya know, so I have to walk a lot and my last pair of tackies blew a flat a while ago. I got them for my 16th birthday and I had to cut a hole out at the front to let my big toe stick out because it was curling up!’

Kirsty has nothing but praise for the polices of President Mugabe. ‘I tell ya, hey, at first, when it all went tits up, ya know, like they took all the farms, and now we got no electricity and the people drank all the water out the pool where I train. I thought, I gotta to find a place to swim, where I can be really pushed. Then I heard about all those people swimming across the Limpopo to get too South Africa, and they getting eaten by flatdogs (local slang for crocodiles) and I started training there. I tell ya - ya gotta swim fast when they come after ya, hey!’

I asked her what she intended to do with her new Gold medals.

‘I got to give 51% of them to the Government because of some new law or whatever and the rest I gonna swop for some chicken feet on the black market so my family won’t go hungry.’

I asked if she had opinion about the one legged swimmer from South Africa, Natalie Du Toit in the women's 1,500 freestyle, winning the Gold in that event.

‘It’s a fucking disgrace. Like that man with no legs, running on flattened plastic chop sticks. Of course she has an advantage. She has less weight to drag through the water! I am seriously thinking about chopping my arms off and having elephant ear implants. I tell ya, that would give an entire new meaning to the butterfly stroke!’

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