After serving as a member of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Athletes, Commission since 2013 and a member of its executive board since 2018, Zimbabwe's Sports minister and two-time Olympic champion swimmer Kirsty Coventry has now been elected to serve as a full member of the IOC.
Coventry's election to the new influential role was confirmed at the IOC's 138th Session held last week at the Okura Hotel in Tokyo.
Nominated by the IOC president Thomas Bach to be an independent member, Coventry was elected at the Tokyo Session after garnering 78 votes with two against.
Following the vote, Coventry, who is also the current chair of the IOC Athletes' Commission, officially had her status within the organisation changed.
"The 138th IOC Session approved the change of status proposed by the IOC EB (executive board) for Ms Kirsty Coventry, IOC Member in Zimbabwe and currently Chair of the IOC Athletes' Commission, from active athlete (membership linked to her function as an active athlete) to independent individual IOC member. Her term as a member of the IOC Athletes' Commission is set to end with the closing of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020," the IOC said in a statement.
While her previous status had listed her as an active athlete, she will now be considered an "independent individual IOC member". Currently there are 102 members, 43 honorary members and one honour member.
As a member of the IOC, the 37- year-old two-time Olympic champion will serve an eight-year term and her new role means she could be one of the candidates for the next election for IOC president in 2025.
She will continue to hold her position in the Athletes' Commission until the conclusion of the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Games.
Coventry will now serve as a part of the organisation responsible for making decisions surrounding the Olympic Games.
While Coventry will represent the IOC in the country and around the world, she will not serve as Zimbabwe's representative within the Swiss-based organisation.
Coventry, who represented Zimbabwe at five Olympic Games, is one of the most successful female swimmers in the history of the Games.
She is tied for the most Olympic medals won by a female swimmer, having won seven medals.
After retiring from the sport in 2016 following the Games, she began a career in politics, after being named the country's minister of Youth, Sport, Arts, and Recreation three years ago.