Swimming star Kirsty returns to Coventry
Tuesday, 22 November 2011
November 22 - Two-time Olympic swimming champion Kirsty Coventry has returned to the city which shares her name following her first ever trip to the key London 2012 destination a year ago.
The 28-year-old from Zimbabwe, who won gold in the women's 200 metres backstroke at the Athens 2004 Olympics before retaining her title at Beijing 2008, has formed a strong relationship with the city, which will host several Olympic football matches at the Ricoh Arena.
In an eventful second trip to the city, the swimming star trained in the 50m pool at the Coventry Sports Centre, talked to students in the city, attended Coventry City's fixture against West Ham United at the Ricoh Arena, attended the CPP Coventry Blaze v Nottingham Panthers ice hockey fixture at the Skydome Arena and visited the Exhall headquarters of Olympic and Paralympic Torch manufacturers.
"It has been fantastic to return to Coventry and get more of a chance to see the city and its huge involvement in the London 2012 Olympic Games," Coventry told insidethegames.
"When Coventry first got in touch about creating this relationship between us due to the fact that we share the same name, I thought it was a great idea and I am just so glad that they did decide contact me.
"Being in Coventry has made me realise what a fantastic place it is and how big a role it will play in the London 2012 Olympics, which I feel will be one of the greatest Olympics ever.
"I am really starting to step up my own preparations for London 2012 right now so I am hoping to return here before the Olympics and to use the fantastic 50m pool here to finalise my training for the Games.
"It all really depends on my schedule but I'm also very hopeful that I can be back for some of the key events in the city like when the Olympic Torch passes through on July 1 next year – that would be absolutely fantastic to see in person."
Coventry (pictured centre), who has picked up a total of seven Olympic medals and eight World Championship medals in a glittering career, admitted she is hopeful of claiming a third Olympic gold in London but that she is not taking anything for granted even though she is the favourite in the 200m backstroke as the reigning Olympic and world champion, as well as world record holder in the discipline.
"The city has been great in supporting my preparations and with their help, I'm confident of making the podium," she said.
"But the competition is getting better all the time and I'm not getting any younger so I'll have to be at my very best to have a chance."
John Mutton, Leader of Coventry City Council, added the city is very pleased to have the swimming star back to visit.
"We are delighted to welcome Kirsty back to our city and to show her some of the fantastic ways in which Coventry is involved in London 2012," he said.
"We would have liked to have shown her all the projects taking place across the region as part of London 2012 – but she is only here for four days.
"It will be exciting to hear Kirsty share her experiences with pupils and students studying in the city and I hope she can help to inspire them as much as London 2012 seems to have."
November 2010: Swimming legend Kirsty finally gets the chance to visit Coventry