Kirsty Coventry: Time To Award Her Real Honour

Two unrelated events came to a close at the weekend: the swimming at the Olympics in London and Big Brother Africa in South Africa.

The obvious question here is, these two events seem far distant and unrelated and why am I even putting them in the same sentence?

In recent years, we have had one Munyaradzi Chidzonga being “honoured” with US300,000 after he came second in Big Brother, with the general feeling that he had been cheated.

I do not watch Big Brother; in fact I dislike the whole charade, but I will not begrudge Chidzonga for the money he was given.

On the other hand, there is Kirsty Coventry. Since 2004 she has been our flag bearer at the Olympics and has entered unchartered territory, previously only dreamt of by other Zimbabweans. She has been a true Zimbabwean hero and I believe she deserves several awards for being Zimbabwe’s premier sporting ambassador.

The temptation to juxtapose Kirsty and Chidzonga’s achievements was just far too great for me to resist, as I feel we have an uncanny habit of rewarding mediocrity, while merit goes unrewarded.

Critics of awarding Kirsty an honour, say she was given US$50,000 by President Robert Mugabe in 2008, but what is that compared to US$300,000 made by Chidzonga.

No offence, but Chidzonga was representing himself in the BBA House, there was no collective sense of patriotism for the nation and in fact there was nothing in it for Zimbabwe.

Others will say Kirsty did not win anything this time around so she does not deserve an honour, but I believe her achievements of the past make her a super contender for a super award.

Seven medals at Olympic Games is no mean feat, considering that Zimbabwe’s only other medal was won in 1980 by the hockey team, after half the world had boycotted the Soviet hosted games.

As Kirsty makes her bow, our future in Olympic Games is bleak, as we have no idea where our next medal will come from. Honouring and rewarding her is the right thing to do, as this might encourage some young kids to take up sport, knowing it is a rewarding career.

I think it is time to honour people who deserve to be honoured and Kirsty is one such person. If I was president maybe I would name a monument, a sport scholarship or anything that will mean Kirsty’s legacy remains embedded in our minds for generations to come.

She deserves one last hooray for the performances she has put in while under the banner of Zimbabwe. She had been a real Zimbabwean hero.


Nqaba Matshazi is a journalist at The Standard.  You can check out his profile ( or follow him on twitter (@nqabamatshazi)

He writes in his personal capacity.

  • The differences are definitely worth pointing out but more so surely what should be looked at is why “the powers that be” give these people, Kirtsy or Chidzonga or Vimbayai or Wendall, any money at all when there are clearly bigger things to tackle in Zimbabwe.

    Apart from that as you clearly stated in some instances people represented themselves rather than the country were as other people did it for their country rather than themselves and I’m sure none of them did it to be awarded money by their country at the end of it.

    Is it just me or does anyone else think this sets a bad example for our youth and younger generation.