A 17-year-old girl is making history by becoming the first Black swimmer to represent Zimbabwe in the Olympics. If you’re amazed that it took until 2021 for that to happen, trust me, you’re not alone.
According to the Associated Press, Donata Katai won gold medals in both the 50-meter and 100-meter backstroke in the 2019 African Junior Championships in Tunisia. In addition to taking gold medals, Katai also broke the youth records of two-time Olympic champion Kirsty Coventry on her way to the Olympics. Coventry is Zimbabwe’s most decorated Olympian, and like most swimmers who have represented the country, she’s white.
Katai’s accomplishment is striking because she comes from a country that’s 99 percent Black, yet has never had a Black swimmer represent them in the Olympic games. In speaking with AP News, Katai seems to have hope that will change in coming years.