Zimbabwe’s teenage swimming star Donata Katai on Saturday won her heat with a personal best time of 1:02.73 in the 100m backstroke at Tokyo 2020.
She is the first black swimmer Zimbabwe has ever sent to the Olympics.
Seventeen-year-old Katai won African youth titles and broke youth records once held by two-time Olympic champion Kirsty Coventry.
The retired swimmer, Coventry, serves as Zimbabwe’s youth, sport, arts, and recreation minister.
Katai won gold medals in the 50m and 100m backstroke at the 2019 African Junior Championships in Tunisia.
“There’s a lot of people of colour that take part in the sport (in Zimbabwe),” Katai said in a recent interview.
Zimbabwe’s NewsDay quoted Katai’s coach Kathy Lobb, as saying it had not been an easy journey to prepare for this mega event due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have basically had a nightmare of the last 18 months trying to keep Donata in training and motivated,” said Lobb.
“There was the issue of finding a pool to train in as all pools closed down in lockdown, including the school pools where most clubs train.”