Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Eric the Eel

Remember him? He achieved brief international fame way back in 2000 when the Olympics was held in Sydney, Australia.
When most Olympic swimmers would clock below 52 seconds at the men's 100m freestyle, Eric clocked a 1:52.72 and won, because the two other competitors Karim Bare and Farkhod Oripov were disqualified for taking a false start. His time was more than twice that of his faster competitors, and outside even the 200m world record. However he had set a new personal best and national record.
Moussambani gained entry to the Olympics without meeting the minimum qualification requirements via a wildcard draw designed to encourage developing countries without expensive training facilities to participate. While Pieter van den Hoogenband set a world record of 47.84 seconds to win the gold medal, Moussambani splashed his way to the finish to the cheers of the crowd in slightly more than twice that time.
Before coming to the Olympics, Moussambani had never seen a 50 m (160 ft) long Olympic-size swimming pool. He took up swimming only 8 months before the Olympics and had practiced in a 20 m (66 ft) pool at a hotel in Malabo.
Being true to the Olympics' citius, altius, fortius theme, it still boils down to surpassing human achievement. And Eric did that magnificently. When others have become so engrossed with amassing as much number of golds as possible, Eric just did his best to surpass his human limitations.

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