KIRSTY Coventry - the two-time Olympic Games women's 200m backstroke champion --will be Team Zimbabwe's flagbearer during the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London next week.
The 2012 London Olympic Games are set to run from July 27 to August 12 and Zimbabwe will be represented by a team of seven athletes who will compete in four sporting disciplines - swimming, athletics (men's and women's marathon), triathlon and rowing.
In London, Zimbabwe will officially have a 25-member delegation comprising seven athletes and 18 officials who include coaches and physiotherapists.
The seven Zimbabwean athletes will be led by the country's swimming icon, Coventry, who will be in London to defend her women's 200m backstroke title.
And Coventry was yesterday named as Team Zimbabwe's flagbearer for this year's Olympic Games.
Flagbearers carry the national flag of their country at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.
Busi Chindove, the chef de mission of Team Zimbabwe for the 2012 London Olympic Games, said yesterday that they chose Coventry to be the country's flagbearer at this year's Games because she is the most senior member of the team.
"In fact, most members of our team like (marathon runners) Sharon Tavengwa, Cutbert Nyasango and Wirimayi Juwawo will not be in London on time for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games next Friday night (July 27).
"And from the athletes who are already here in London and who will be available for the opening ceremony, Kirsty (Coventry) is the most senior and that's why we have chosen her to be our flagbearer," said Chindove, who was speaking from London yesterday.
This will be the second time that Coventry will be the country's flagbearer at the Olympic Games after she acted in the same capacity at the last Games in Beijing, China, four years ago.
She joins the likes of other fellow Zimbabwean Olympians such as Abel Nkhoma, Zephaniah Ncube, Tendai Chimusasa, Phillip Mukomana and young Talkmore Nyongani who were Zimbabwe's flagbearers at the past Olympic Games in which the country took part since the 1980 Moscow Games in Russia.
In fact, long-distance runner Nkhoma wrote his own piece of history when he was named as Zimbabwe's flagbearer when the country first took part in the Olympics in Moscow in 1980 after its re-admission into the Olympic Family soon after the attainment of independence.
He was followed by Ncube (1984 Los Angeles Games in the United States), Chimusasa (1996 Atlanta Games in the United States), Mukomana (2000 Sydney Games in Australia) and Nyongani (2004 Athens Games in Greece).
At this year's Olympic Games, which will burst into life in London on the night of July 27, the onus will be on swimming sensation Coventry to be Zimbabwe's flagbearer at the event.
This year's Games will mark a record fourth appearance at the global sporting showcase for Coventry, having made her debut at the world's biggest sporting extravaganza in 2000 in Sydney, Australia.
And Coventry has now been designated as standard bearer for her country in recognition of her performances and exemplary behaviour on and off the pool.
Of all the Zimbabwean athletes who have qualified for the London Olympic Games, the 200m women's backstroke champion is the one who has won the most medals - seven -two golds, four silvers and one bronze.
Meanwhile, Chindove said all the members of Team Zimbabwe who were expected to arrive in London on Monday, the day the Games Village opened, were now in the British capital getting ready to take part in the world's biggest sporting showpiece.
"Everybody whom we expected to arrive here in London (on Monday) has now checked in.
"In fact, our two rowers - Micheen Thornycroft and James Fraser Mackenzie - and their manager Rachel Davies have all arrived and they checked in yesterday (Monday).
"They've all settled in nicely and today (yesterday) they will spend time in the gym in the morning before going for a practice session at the Games' rowing venue in the afternoon.
"They were initially supposed to go for their first practice session there yesterday (Monday) but it (the rowing venue in Kent) was too muddy and they are only going there today (yesterday)," Chindove said.