Donata Katai is the swimmer to watch!
To perform on behalf of your country as an athlete is the highest honor and the southern African nation of Zimbabwe is proud to send their first-ever black swimmer to the Olympics.
According to Bradenton – Seventeen-year-old Donata Katai won African youth titles and broke youth records once held by two-time Olympic champion Kirsty Coventry, who is not only Zimbabwe’s most successful swimmer but also Africa’s most decorated Olympian.
Tokyo is probably too early for the teenager to succeed Coventry in the way she really wants, by stepping onto the Olympic podium.
But, for now, Katai does represent a deeper breakthrough for Zimbabwe. Her country is 99% Black and it’s taken until 2021 for a Black swimmer to represent Zimbabwe at the Olympics.
“There’s a lot of people of color that take part in the sport (in Zimbabwe),” Katai said. “It’s kind of becoming normal for me in Zimbabwe.
“I feel like we swim in very different environments because in America there are not many people of color that swim.
In Zimbabwe, the majority of people that swim at the moment are people of color. I guess her (Manuel’s) story would be very different from mine.”
Katai’s story is also very different from another Black African swimmer. Eric Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea gained brief worldwide fame, and the ironic nickname Eric the Eel, for being so bad at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. That stereotype is definitely not applicable here.
Katai has been swimming competitively since, at the age of 6, she realized she was pretty good at it. She’s been tracked after her talent peaked the interest of some of the country’s top coaches at the age of 8.
Her family is solidly middle class, her current coach, Kathy Lobb, stressed. She is not underprivileged. And she’s the first swimmer the veteran coach has taken all the way to the Olympics.
“The best I’ve done is world champs and African Games. So for me this is the ultimate,” Lobb said. “Its every coach’s dream to have a swimmer coming through and taking them to the Olympics.”
Watch more about Zimbabwe’s swimming prodigy here: