They tried, and they failed – often dismally. But let’s not be too harsh on those athletes who have given it their all but come up short.
Not every athlete gets the professional training, nutrition and supplements advice that Team GB gets.
Summer and winter games are a celebration of the human spirit just as much as performance, and in the former department at least, these men and women are true winners.
Eric the Eel
The worst swimmer ever to compete in the olympics. Eric Moussambani was a wildcard from Equatorial Guinea entered in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. It was the first time the swimmer had ever seen a 50m pool, let alone swam in one and due to a misunderstanding, Moussambani had only trained for the 50m, not the 100m for which he was entered.
Eric’s heat got off to a bad start when the two other competitors were disqualified for jumping the gun. As the only competitor remaining, it was decided that Moussambani would have to compete against the clock.
Despite his best efforts, the flailing African could only manage a time of 1:52.72. This is some way outside of the world record for the 200m, but not bad considering that he’d taught himself to swim just eight months before the race and trained without a coach, in a hotel pool.
The 3m springboard was the scene of Germany’s Stephen Feck’s undoing at last year’s olympics. The 23 year old bounded into the air, but mid somersault he lost grip of one of his legs, span out of the tuck and landed flat on his back in the water.
The plunge earnt him nil points and last place.
Feck’s humiliation went viral, but if you think the guy is another hopeless athlete – think again – he has previously won silver medals at European level. This being the case, we thought we’d give the guy a break and let him have his say.
The small island nation of American Samoa is not known for producing sprinters – as it turns out – with good reason. The scene was set for a showdown between the world’s best sprinters at the 2011 World Athletics Championships in South Korea. In lane seven, 17 year old Sogelau Tuvalu readied himself for the crack of the starting pistol. He had wanted to compete in the shot put but failed to make the qualifying distance – the 100m dash would have to do.
As the gun went off, Tuvalu exploded off the blocks, but his shuffling gait and hefty frame made the following 99m slow going. At one point the teenager was a massive 40m, behind the next slowest runner.
Despite a time of 15.66 seconds, the Samoan professed to be delighted with his performance, a personal best.
Eddie the eagle
Possibly the most famous ‘awful athlete’ the world has ever known. Michael Edwards, the plasterer from Stroud was a good downhill skier and only just missed out on making the GB team for the 1984 winter olympics.
He decided to move to Lake Placid in the US to improve his chances of making the 1988 competition. Soon beset by financial problems Eddie’s olympic dream was slipping through his gloved fingers. Then he switched to ski jump and easier qualification. He made the team and in the snows of Calgary, the ‘Eagle’ was born.
As they say the rest is history – he came last in both the normal and large hill events, but his cheery ineptitude made him a sporting star.
The sculling sloth
The man who learned to row just three months before the Olympics came last by a wide margin in all three races in last year’s London Olympics. But while Hamadou Djibo Issaka of Niger proved a slow rower, he very quickly found a place in the hearts of the British public.
Niger is a desert country and not one with a rowing tradition, but that didn’t stop Issaka from trying. All his training was done in Tunisia and his entry was, like Eric the eel’s due to a wildcard system that encourages less developed nations to participate.
Issaka is now hoping to make the 2016 Olympics in Rio. It will be interesting to see if a professional training regime with proper nutrition and food supplements can make a true athlete of him.