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Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Unusual Athletes

In last Sunday’s Parade magazine, Mitch Albom wrote an article about some of the amazing Olympic athletes who do not make it to the winners’ circle, but whose stories can be every bit as inspiring as those who do. I couldn’t agree more. The current issue of Brain Aerobics Weekly is an all Olympics issue and here is one of the stories featured on the discussion page about an athlete Mr. Albom didn’t mention:
Countries which fail to produce athletes able to meet performance requirements to compete – often because they are too poor to provide trainers and facilities – are granted "wild cards", which enable them to send competitors to the Games even if those competitors' abilities are well below Olympic standards. One of these wild cards at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney was Eric Moussam-bani, a swimmer from Equatorial Guinea. He swam alone in his heat when two other wild cards were disqualified after false starts.

Before coming to the Olympics, Mr. Moussambani had never seen a 50 meter pool. He had taken up swimming only 8 months before the Olympics, swimming in a hotel pool in his homeland. His race time was more than twice the winner’s time, but he set a new personal best and a national record for Equatorial Guinea. Moreover, he won the hearts of the crowd watching, who gave him a standing ovation. Sadly, Mr. Moussambani was denied entry into the 2004 Olympic Games due to a visa bungle, despite the vast improvement in his swimming over the previous four years. You can see his inspiring performance with the enthusiastic play-by-play rendered by the Australian announcers at http://youtube.com/watch?v=3zjCc_VyxM4.

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