Thursday, August 21, 2008

Olympic Memories: Eric "The Eel" Moussambani

This is a true story.

In 2000 a young man named Eric Moussambani from Equatorial Guinea qualified for the Sydney Games through a "wild card." The wild card was designed to encourage developing countries without expensive training facilities to get more involved in Olympic sports.

"The Eel" learned to swim eight months prior to the Olympics. He was 22-years-old. He learned and sort-of-practiced in a hotel pool. One of only two pools in all of Equatorial Guinea. (A very small African nation.) Before the Olympics, Moussambani had never even seen a 50 meter sized pool, let alone swim in one.

As "The Eel" was ready to swim his ceremonial heat, his two competitors false started. They were DQ'd. So Moussambani doggy-paddled the race alone. While his time was twice the Olympic standard, there was something noble about the effort. A purity. "The Eel" gave it everything he had. And inspired many.

Swim, Eric. Swim.

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