BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
TEENAGE swimming sensation Donata Katai is certain to stir the interest of top swimming universities across the globe after she passed her 2021 Cambridge Advanced Level examinations with straight As in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry.
The 17-year-old star, who became the first black swimmer to represent the country at the Olympic Games last year, is one of the 11 Gateway High School students to get a perfect score in AS Level exam.
The results put Katai in good stead to attract sports scholarships at some of the top colleges and universities in the US as well as around the globe as she seeks to build on her swimming career.
It is understood that a number of top swimming colleges in the US have been monitoring the teenage swimmer for a while now.
Gateway announced the students who excelled in the Cambridge A Level and AS Level on their social media platforms on Thursday.
“Congratulations to our AS Level students for achieving excellent results in the 2021 Cambridge Exam Session. To God be the Glory,” the school said in a Facebook post accompanied by the student’s pictures.
AS-level exams refers to a sitting that comes at the end of the first year of A-level learning and many students gain places at leading universities around the world with Cambridge International AS Level qualification.
And for Katai it can only be a matter of time before she takes the next step to join one judging by her recent academic achievement.
It would be a massive step in Katai’s career, especially with one eye on the 2024 Paris Olympics, if she could join a top university in the US to develop her swimming career and study at the same time.
The Zimbabwe Olympic Committee did not miss the opportunity to celebrate Katai’s academic achievements.
“Well done Do-na-ta! We’re super proud of your performance in and out of the pool!,” they took to social media to celebrate the swimming prodigy.
Katai has been breaking the age records of Africa’s most decorated Olympian, fellow Zimbabwean and Minister of Sports Kirsty Coventry.
Hopes are high that she is going to go on and equal or even surpass Coventry’s achievements in the pool.
Coventry sharpened her swimming gift at Alabama based University, Auburn, and went on to win seven medals at the Olympic Games, three of them gold.
She also set two world records and competed at five Olympic Games in a professional career spanning over a decade and a half.
Last year alone, Katai was part of the five-member Zimbabwe Olympics team and assumed flag bearer duties at the global games alongside rower Peter Purcil-Gilpin.
Competing in the 100m backstroke race, Katai finished overall 34th out of 41 swimmers and posted a personal best time in the event.
In December last year, Katai won five gold medals in the 50m,100m, 200m backstroke and 50m, 100m butterfly and two silver medals in the 4×100 mixed medley as well as the 4×100 women medley race at the African Union Sports Council Region 5 Youth Games in Lesotho.
Some of her accolades include two gold medals at the 2019 CANA Junior African Swimming Championships in Tunisia while she famously broke the 21-year-old 100m backstroke record at the South Africa National Junior Championships, Durban the same year.