BEIJING (Reuters) - Zimbabwe’s Kirsty Coventry, faced with the prospect of leaving the Olympics with a bag full of silver, found the necessary extra to add gold when she won the women’s 200 meter backstroke in a world record time on Saturday.
Coventry had won the event in Athens four years ago but after she won silvers in the 200 and 400 individual medleys and the 100 meters backstroke in Beijing, she was desperate to keep her gold.
“I think going into any race there is always a little bit of pressure,” she said. “My coach (Kim Brackin) and I were sitting together before the race and she was like ‘just go in and have fun’.”
It didn’t feel much like fun though as Coventry came out of the pool with sore legs and feeling nauseous.
“It was a painful race and my legs hurt a bit. It was my last race and I wanted to give it everything. Getting the gold medal is the cherry on the top.
“It is such a relief, I am so excited. I am thrilled with the time. I’m really loving what I’m doing.
“I wanted to swim fast and from the feeling of wanting to throw up, I think I’ve done it,” she said.
Although the 24-year-old spends most of her time in the United States, her family live in Zimbabwe and they made the trip to Beijing in time to see her win gold.
“My family is finally here which is really important,” she said.
“I am so thrilled. The plan was to go in and put everything on the line and see what I have to go home with. I’m excited to hear the national anthem play and for everyone back home to hear it.”
Editing by Greg Stutchbury