Ethiopia’s Robel Kiros Habte doesn’t fit the shape of the prototypical Olympic swimmer, a fact that made him the object of some derision on the Internet.
An Ethiopian news site declared that Habte, a 24-year-old university student whose father reportedly heads up the country’s swimming federation, was “out of shape.” Others called him “Robel the Whale.” The 5-foot-9, 179-pound Habte finished last among the 59 competitors in the eight heats of the 100-meter freestyle with a time of 1 minute, 4.95 seconds. Australia’s Kyle Chalmers won gold with a time of 47.9 seconds.
“I wanted to do something different for my country, that’s why I chose swimming,” he told Reuters. “Everybody, every day you wake up in Ethiopia, you run. Not swimming. But I didn’t want to run, I wanted to be a swimmer. It didn’t matter where I finished.”
There’s more on Habte here.