Donata Katai Breaks Barriers At The Tokyo Olympics


Photo: Getty Images

Nearly 100% of Zimbabwe's population is comprised of Black residents, but the country has never sent a Black swimmer to represent the nation at the Summer Olympic Games. Fortunately, that will no longer be the case after Donata Katai hops in the pool this week. Having won multiple African youth titles and broke youth records once held by Olympic champion Kirsty Coventry, Katai has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics at 17 years old. Katai will represent the nation of Zimbabwe in the 100-meter backstroke.

“I think it’s (the Olympics) going to be like sort of a movie,” Katai told the Associated Press as she struggled to contain her joyful excitement.

"It’s going to be unreal. Being around a lot of people I watch on TV, look up to in a way, then be right there in front of me, being able to watch them."

Katai will not be the only one making their Olympic debut in Tokyo this week. Her coach, Kathy Lobb, competed in the world championships and African Games as a swimmer, but she never reached the Olympic Games. Lobb is equally excited to reach the Olympic pool for the first time.

“The best I’ve done is world champs and African Games. So for me this is the ultimate,” Lobb added.

“Its every coach’s dream to have a swimmer coming through and taking them to the Olympics.”

Katai will begin her Olympic run on July 25 as the women's 100-meter backstroke preliminary heats begin.

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