Kirsty Coventry Biography: Age, Family, Education, Career, Controversy

All about the life of Kirsty Coventry.

By  | May 22, 2020, 03:15 PM

Kirsty Coventry is the minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation in the Cabinet of Zimbabwe. She is a former swimmer and world record holder. She has won 24 gold medals across 5 different games, 2 of which she won in the Olympic Games in 2004 and 2008 for the 200m backstroke.

In 2012 she was elected to the International Olympic Committee, the body that represents all the the Olympic athletes worldwide, which she has been serving on for 8 years. In early 2018, the IOC Athletes’ Commission elected Kirsty Coventry as the Chairperson. 

Coventry has competed all across the globe from Athens, to Maputo, to Melbourne. She has undoubtedly flown her Zimbabwean flag high and continues to forge the way forward for her country, now in the new political arena of her life.

Let’s dive into the disciplined and resolute life of Kirsty Coventry:

Kirsty Coventry Age

Kirsty Leigh Coventry is 36 years old and was born on the 16th September 1983, in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Kirsty Coventry Family

Kirsty Coventry and Tyrone Steward were married on the 10th August 2013. Tyrone Steward had been her manager since 2010 and in May 2019, she gave birth to her first child.

Kirsty Coventry Education

She attended Dominican Convent High School in Harare, Zimbabwe until 1999 and then studied at Auburn University, Alabama, USA.

Kirsty Coventry College Career

As a college student of Auburn University, Kirsty lead the Tigers to NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Championships in 2003 and 2004. She was the top individual scorer at the NCAA in 2005, grabbing 3 individual titles for her second consecutive season. She was named the College swimming Coaches Association Swimmer.

Her other college accomplishments were:

  • - SEC (Southeastern Conference) Swimmer of the year – 2005
  • - SEC (Southeastern Conference) Female Athlete of the year – 2004 and 2005
  • - Honda Sports Award for Swimming and Diving, she was recognized as the outstanding female college swimmer of the year 2004 and 2005

Kirsty Coventry Swimming Career

- In 2000, Kirsty Coventry was named Zimbabwe’s Sports Woman of the Year. As only a high school student, Kirsty still managed to clear her way through the Olympic Arena, making it to the the semifinals for her country. She became the first Zimbabwean swimmer to do so.

- In the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Kirsty Coventry won 3 medals, one of which was a gold medal for the 200m backstroke.

- Kirsty Coventry finished 3rd place in her semifinal heat of the 200m individual medley at the 2012 Olympics in London which took her into the final where she won 6th place. She then finished outside the medals in 6th place in the 200m backstroke.

- In the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics, Kirsty Coventry made her 5th and final appearance. She made 6th place once more for the 200m backstroke. She after the 2016 Olympics.

World Championships

- At the 2005 World Championships in Montreal, Kirsty Coventry swam a time of 2:08.52 for the 200m backstroke. She improved on her 2004 Olympic medal count, winning gold in both 100m and 200m backstroke. 
Coventry was one of two Zimbabwean swimmers, the other was rising Junior Warren Paynter. She ranked her country as third in the medal count by nation and won the meet honours for the female swimmer.

- Kirsty Coventry won silver at the Melbourne 2007 World Championships for both the 200m backstroke and the 200m IM. However she was disqualified in 400m IM at second place. She then disappointingly finished in 14th place and failed to qualify for the finals. She did however continue on in good form for the International Swim Meet in Narashimo, Japan in 2007, winning 4 gold medals. 

- Kirsty Coventry broke her first world record in the 200m backstroke at the Missouri Grand Prix in 2008. She is the first woman in history to break the 1 minute barrier in the 100m backstroke and the second to break the 59 second barrier in the 100m backstroke.

Coventry then went onto break her second world record in Manchester in 2008 followed by a second gold medal win for the 100m backstroke. By day three Coventry broke another record and then beat her second world record time by winning at 2:00:91.

She then also dominated the short course category and broke the world record for the 200m individual medley at a time of 2:06:13. Coventry was the named the FINA Female Swimmer of the Championship due to her outstanding performance.
She then represented Zimbabwe in the Summer Olympics in Beijing where she won gold and was awarded $100 000 by President Robert Mugabe for her Olympic success which she donated to charity.

- Coventry won gold and silver in the 2009 World Championships in Rome. She won the 200m backstroke and came second for the 400m individual medley.

Kirsty Coventry Political Career

Kirsty Coventry was appointed Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation of Zimbabwe on the 7th September 2018, just nine days before her 35th birthday. She serves on a 20 member cabinet under President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Kirsty Coventry Controversy

Allegations were made earlier this year accusing the Zimbabwean government of interfering in the running of the national cricket team. Kirsty Coventry denied the rumours and tweeted that she was devastated at the negative effect it had, had on the players.

This came after a decision was passed by the ICC to suspend Zimbabwe Cricket due to the allegations of political interference. 

Coventry tweeted:
“SRC is not government - they are a public body.”
In another tweet, she said, “There is need for good governance at ZC for the international success we all want to see.”

Henry Olonga, former Zimbabwean player and first black cricketer to represent his country in 1995, tweeted support for Coventry. 
“Sorry Kirsty but they ain’t listening. The rest of us see it for what it is,” tweeted Olonga

Kirsty Coventry said that the ICC suspension would entail the cancellation of Zimbabwean teams playing scheduled international ICC matches.

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Main image credit: Twitter