Rio Olympics 2016: Ethiopian swimmer dubbed 'Robel the Whale'

Robel Kiros Habte of Ethiopia competes in the Men's 100m Freestyle heat. Photo / Getty
Robel Kiros Habte of Ethiopia competes in the Men's 100m Freestyle heat. Photo / Getty

Remember Eric the Eel?

A lot of people did today when Ethiopian swimmer Robel Kiros Habte competed in the men's 100m freestyle heats. His time of 1 minute, 4.95 seconds would have seen him finish a long way ahead of Eric Moussambani from Equatorial Guinea, who clocked 1:52.72 for the 100m freestyle at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, but Habte still finished half a lap behind the last competitor in his heat and was easily the slowest competitor in the field. The slowest time to qualify for the top 16 was 48.58.

Habte's physique came in for a little attention afterwards. The Daily Mail even dubbed him "Robel the Whale".

Ethiopia have sent 35 competitors to the Rio Games but most expectations will be around athletics. Habte is one of two Ethopian swimmers in Rio.

"Everybody knows we like running. All the people like running," Habte said. "I don't like running. I want to be different in my country, that is why I choose it. I just love swimming."

Eric Moussambani won brief international fame at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 for his swim in the 100m freestyle in 1:52.72 - more than double that of his faster competitors. Still, it was his new personal best and an Equatoguinean national record. He later became the coach of the national swimming squad of Equatorial Guinea.

Before coming to the Olympics, Moussambani had never seen a 50m long Olympic-size swimming pool. He took up swimming eight months before the Olympics and had practiced in a lake, and later a 12m swimming pool in a hotel in Malabo.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 25 Oct 2016 08:05:02 Processing Time: 534ms