First Black Zimbabwe Swimmer to Compete in 2021 Olympics

Donata Katai will be the first from her nation to compete


Olympics FILE - In this March 24, 2020, file photo, a man is seen through the Olympic rings in front of the New National Stadium in Tokyo. Tokyo Olympic organizers on Friday, Nov. 27, 2020 announced a series of 18 test events set to begin in March and run into May. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
By Briasia Russ

Donata Katai will be the first Black Zimbabwe swimmer to compete in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. According to ABC, the seventeen-year-old won African youth titles and broke youth records.  

Simone Manuel’s Rio de Janeiro win, made people question why Black swimmers aren’t represented within the Olympic community. 

ABC reports that this is this has raised an eyebrow in southern Africa. Successful swimmers like Chad le Clos and Cameron van de Burgh are white, but come from majority-Black countries.  

Katai says that Black swimmers is the new normal for her. “There’s a lot of people of color that take part in the sport [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 [Simone Manuel’s] story would be very different from mine.” 

Her coach, Kathy Lobb, is honored to be the one to take Katai this far.  She is the first swimmer that the coach has had to compete in the Olympics. “The best I’ve done is world champs and African Games. So, for me this is the ultimate,” Lobb said. “It’s every coach’s dream to have a swimmer coming through and taking them to the Olympics.” 

Despite the Olympics being put on hold in the past due to the pandemic, Katai is thrilled to head to Tokyo for the 2021 Olympics.