A 17-year-old girl is making history by becoming the first Black swimmer to represent Zimbabwe in the Olympics.
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.
“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 told AP. “There’s a lot of people of color that take part in the sport. It’s kind of becoming normal for me in Zimbabwe.”