Olympics top 10: Worst athletes
Thu, 02 Aug 2012 10:44a.m.
By Dan Satherley
The Olympics are supposed to show off the best athletes the world has to offer. Sometimes, however, the world doesn't keep up its end of the deal, and sends the worst.
In 116 years of Olympic shame, here are gold medallists in being terrible (yes, that's 10 gold medals. Everybody wins! Or loses).
10. Shizo Kanakuri
Of all the traits required of an athlete to run a marathon, bloody-minded focus and determination would be up there. Japanese runner Shizo Kanakuri was lacking in both when during the 1912 event in Stockholm, he was struggling with the unexpected Nordic heat.
About to pass out, Kanakuri stumbled off the course and into the garden of a Swedish family who were making the most of the sunny weather with a backyard picnic.
Showing great hospitality, they invited Kanakuri to join them, and he accepted. After the feed – and a nap – he realised it was far too late to rejoin the race, and feeling ever so slightly ashamed – something the Japanese take quite seriously – he quietly caught a boat home without telling anyone.
Swedish authorities, unable to locate Kanakuri, officially declared him a missing person.
In 1962 an investigative journalist found him teaching geography in Japan, unaware of his cult status in Sweden. A few years later he returned to finish the race, completing it in 54 years, eight months, six days, five hours and 20.379 seconds exactly.
9. Jamaican bobsled team
At the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, several "tropical" nations "competed" – if that's the right word for making up the numbers at the bottom of the medal chart.
The most infamous was the Jamaican bobsled team, which didn't even have their own bobsled. Other countries, sensing the potential LOLs, were happy to loan them sleds.
As everyone knows, their story was later made into the film Cool Runnings. What you might not know, is that the Jamaican side now has a website with a section devoted to 'Lessons from Cool Runnings'. The link wouldn't work for me, but I'm guessing the first rule is don't hire John Candy as your coach.
8. Petero Okotai
Cook Islands swimmer Peter Okotai didn't have an Olympic-sized pool to train in before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In fact, to begin with he didn't even have a pool.
Instead he trained in a lagoon where he had to avoid "fish, coral heads and ocean currents".
When the Muri Beach Club Hotel in Rarotonga let him use their 17m pool, he was thrilled – but he had to share it with tourists.
After finished last in the 100m breaststroke by a significant margin, he quipped: "I hope I'm not Eric the Eel," who we'll be learning about later.
7. Stany Ngangola
Congolese swimmer Stany Ngangola wasn't as bad as everyone thought he would be, even though he finished 97th and last in the 50m freestyle at the Beijing games in 2008, 14 seconds behind France's Amaury Leveaux.
The press, eager to find the next Eric the Eel (there's that name again…) thought they had their man in Ngangola, calling him 'Stany the Snail' before they'd even seen him swim.
Why? Because an Australian paper had listed his personal best time as one minute, 15 seconds – almost a whole minute behind the world record. In a marathon that'd be impressive, but for a 50m swim? You could float quicker than that.
Unaware of the report, a bewildered Ngangola was hounded by the press, whom also believed he'd been trained by Eric the Eel back in the Congo.
When asked what he thought of Michael Phelps, Ngangola asked if he was a journalist, which makes him the best comedian on this list.
6. Abdul Baser Wasiqi
Afghanistan's only athlete at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta was Abdul Baser Wasiqi.
Running in the marathon, he literally limped the whole 42km, having sustained a hamstring injury prior to the race.
When he finally entered the stadium in 111th and last place, an hour-and-a-half behind the next slowest runner, he found workmen preparing the stadium for the closing ceremony, and tarpaulin had been laid across the running track.
But at least he did it. I suspect he might also have edited his own Wikipedia page, which not only details his education and employment history in excruciating detail, but also lists his hobbies, political ambitions and favourite cities.
Atlanta is not on that list.
5. Jean-Olivier Zirignon
Jean-Olivier Zirignon was a 100m specialist from the Ivory Coast with a best time of 10.07s. What he wasn't was a 100m-whilst-suffering-a-torn-hamstring specialist (who is? Probably Usain Bolt).
At the Atlanta Games in 1996, he was not only slower than every other competitor, but with a time of 22. 69 seconds, he was slower than most of the 200m runners also.
Can't really blame that on the 0.3m/s headwind.
4. George S Robertson
Just because you're competing in the Olympics, that doesn't make you an athlete.
George S Robertson was an Oxford-educated scholar specialising in classical Greek literature, so – in his own words – he "could hardly resist a go at the Olympics".
He bought a ticket to the inaugural games in Athens for £11 and on arrival, entered the discus, shot put and tennis – the Olympics truly were for amateurs only back then.
Robertson went on to set a record (that still stands) for the worst ever discus throw, and came tied for last in the singles tennis tournament.
But amazingly, paired with Australian Edwin Flack in the doubles, he came third… the pair had a bye in the first round, allowing them to progress directly to a playoff for the final, which they lost, giving them third place.
But no bronze medal – they weren't given out until 1904.
3. Iraqi basketball team
At the 1948 Olympics in London, the Iraq basketball side showed just what a powerhouse basketball nation Iraq would later become... Not.
In pool play they played and lost five matches, scoring 113 points and conceding 545.
Somehow, this was good enough to advance them to the second round, where they lost to Italy by 49 points.
A bye followed, meaning rather than finish dead last they took on Switzerland to see who'd take home the trophy for 21st place.
At least they would have, had they shown up. Ireland, who came last, one place behind Iraq, had a right to be peeved.
2. Eddie the Eagle
Just because he was ranked the best ski-jumper in Britain didn't mean Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards was ready for the big time.
Originally a downhill skier, he switched to jumping to cut costs and increase his chances of qualifying for the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988, despite claiming to be afraid of heights.
He was 9kg heavier than anyone else who qualified and had to wear six layers of socks to make his only pair of boots fit.
On top of this, he was farsighted and had to wear bulky, thick glasses which would fog up so badly he couldn't see, every time he jumped.
Eddie qualified as the only British ski-jumper around. When he found out, he was working as a plasterer and living in a mental hospital.
He wasn't technically crazy – it was just a cost-cutting measure – but his place on this list means you know he was.
He came last in both the 70m and 90m events, and Olympic organisers changed the rules to stop Eddie from qualifying again. That's how bad he was.
Eddie finally found sporting success in 2012, when he won a celebrity version of the television show Wipeout. That's not even a joke.
1. Eric the Eel
Forget Ian Thorpe - Eric 'The Eel' Moussambani was the real swimming star of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
Hailing from Equatorial Guinea, Eric qualified – if that's what we're calling it – for the games through a wildcard entry, aimed at developing countries without expensive training facilities.
Eric only took up swimming eight months before the Olympics, and trained in a hotel pool. He never even saw a regulation Olympic 50m pool until he arrived in Sydney.
His swimming style, later described by one sports blogger as "like a llama with cement boots" was far from the truly eel-like Thorpe and current champ Michael Phelps.
It took him one minute and 53 seconds to complete the 100m freestyle – the winner that year, Pieter van den Hoogenband did it in 47.84s. Hell, van den Hoogenband swam the 200m quicker than Eric did the 100m.
Eric's hopelessness rubbed off the only other swimmer from Equatorial Guinea at the games, Paula Barila Bolopa, who set the record slowest time in the 50m freestyle – one minute and four seconds.
Despite this, Eric has still probably achieved more than you or I ever will. Not only did he compete at the Olympics, his time of one minute and 53 seconds was an Equatoguinean national record – and he's now coach of his country's swimming team competing in London.
Post a Comment
Before commenting, please take the time to read our moderation guide
(Won't be published)
New Zealand free skiier Rose Battersby still has aspirations of competing at nex...
Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale has one more thing on his to do list before he re...
Select your blogger
Copyright © 2013 MediaWorks TV. All Rights Reserved.