February may be the shortest month of the year, but it has produced some of Zimbabwe’s tallest sporting talents. From the cricket pitch to the swimming pool, Zimbabwe’s February-born athletes have reached the pinnacle of their sports and become legends in their own right. Let’s take a look at these rare breeds who have brought glory to Zimbabwe on the world stage.
The Doubles Dominatrix
Cara Black was born on 17 February 1979 and went on to dominate the doubles court like no other. With 60 WTA doubles titles under her belt, including 10 Grand Slam trophies, Cara established herself as the queen of doubles. She reached the number one ranking in women’s and mixed doubles, becoming the first Zimbabwean player to do so.
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Cara partnered with various players over the years, aptly nicknamed ‘Cara and Friends’. Among her illustrious partners were Liezel Huber, Rennae Stubbs, Leander Paes and even her own brother Wayne Black. With them, she won pretty much everything there was to win.
But it wasn’t just Cara and her friends having all the fun. She also represented Zimbabwe in 3 Olympic games, including Athens-2004. After over a decade of doubles dominance, the queen laid down her racket in 2015, leaving behind a legacy as one of tennis’ greatest ever doubles players.
Brendan The Run Machine
Brendan Taylor, born on 6 February 1986, is a cricketing hero known for his batting mastery. In his 12 year international career, Brendan smashed over 10,000 runs across formats and notched up 17 centuries and 57 half-centuries. He became the backbone of Zimbabwe’s fragile batting lineup.
Brendan still holds the record for the highest individual ODI score by a Zimbabwean batsman, with a blazing knock of 145 not out against Sri Lanka in 2015. He was equally brilliant behind the stumps, snapping up 102 catches and 29 stumpings.
After captaining Zimbabwe at the 2019 World Cup, where he bid farewell with a ton against India, Brendan hung up his boots and gloves. But his batting heroics continue to be the stuff of legends for aspiring Zimbabwean cricketers.
Kirsty, the Golden Fish
Kirsty Coventry, born on 16 February 1983, made a splash in the swimming world at a very young age. She swam for Zimbabwe in 5 Olympics over 16 years, winning a total of 7 medals, including 2 golds. Her medal haul makes her the most decorated Olympian from Africa in any sport.
Kirsty was a sensation in the backstroke and medley events, breaking world records and piling up medals at the World Championships, Commonwealth Games, All-Africa Games and more. She eventually retired after the 2016 Olympics as a legend of not just Zimbabwean sport but world swimming.
Recently, Kirsty was appointed Zimbabwe’s Minister of Youth, Sport and the Arts. From the pool to parliament, there are no waters Kirsty can’t conquer. She remains an inspiration to aspiring swimmers from Zimbabwe and beyond.
Other February-Born Stars
While Cara, Brendan and Kirsty shine the brightest, several other Zimbabwean sports stars born in February have sparkled on the world stage:
- Irish golfing great Mark McNulty (born 25 October 1953) won several European and PGA tour titles after switching from Zimbabwe.
- Paula Newby-Fraser (born 2 June 1962), the ‘Queen of Kona’, won 8 Ironman World Championship titles for the US as the greatest female triathlete ever.
Zimbabwe has a knack for producing sporting legends in the shortest month. The exploits of Cara, Brendan, Kirsty and others born in February have proven that Zimbabweans can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best in the world. Their greatest legacy is the inspiration they provide to budding athletes who wish to emulate their idols. We can expect the next rare breed of February-born superstars to arise sooner rather than later!