Eric Moussambani

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Eric Moussambani
Personal information
Full name Eric Moussambani Malonga
Born (1978-05-31) May 31, 1978 (age 36)
Sport
Country  Equatorial Guinea
Event(s) 100m freestyle

Eric Moussambani Malonga (born May 31, 1978) is a swimmer from Equatorial Guinea. Nicknamed "Eric the Eel" by the media after the name first appeared in an article by Craig Lord in The Times newspaper in London, Moussambani won brief international fame at the 2000 Summer Olympics when he swam his heat of the 100 m freestyle in 1:52.72.[1] His time was more than twice that of his faster competitors, and outside even the 200 m world record. However, he set a new personal best and Equatoguinean national record.[2]

Career[edit]

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 won in a time of 48.30 (setting a world record of 47.84 in the semi-finals), Moussambani splashed his way to the finish to the cheers of the crowd in more than twice that time (1:52.72). "The last 15 metres were very difficult", Moussambani said. However, because the other two swimmers in his heat made false starts, and were thus disqualified, he won the heat unopposed. Before coming to the Olympics, Moussambani had never seen a 50 m (160 ft) long Olympic-size swimming pool. He took up swimming only eight months before the Olympics and had practiced in a lake[3] in Malabo.[4]

His performance generated spectator and media interest in the only other Equatoguinean swimmer at the Sydney Olympics, Paula Barila Bolopa, who competed in the women's 50 meters freestyle event. Barila struggled to finish the race with a time of 1:03.97, setting a record for the slowest time in Olympic history for that event, and also achieved minor celebrity status.[5][6]

Moussambani was denied entry into the 2004 Olympic Games due to a visa bungle,[7] despite the vast improvement in his swimming over the previous four years, with his personal best down to under 57 seconds.[8] He did not take part in the 2008 Summer Olympics,[9] but he hopes to qualify for the 2016 games.

In March 2012 he was appointed coach of the national swimming squad of Equatorial Guinea.[10]

Similarly-acclaimed athletes[edit]

In subsequent Olympic Games, international media occasionally referred to Moussambani's potential successors — athletes who might record spectacularly poor times. Prior to the 2008 Summer Olympics, media in several countries—including Australia, Denmark, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom—suggested that Stany Kempompo Ngangola, a swimmer from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, would be the Olympics' next "Eric the Eel".[11][12][13][14][15] The media also described ni-Vanuatu sprinter Elis Lapenmal and Palestinian swimmer Hamza Abdu as "potential successors to Moussambani".[16] During the Games, Cook Islands swimmer Petero Okotai compared himself to "Eric the Eel" upon recording a disappointing time in his event.[17]

During the 2009 IAAF World Championships various media around the world, including La Nación and the Daily Telegraph, described American Samoan sprinter Savannah Sanitoa as "the new Eric 'the Eel' Moussambani".[18][19]

London 2012 olympic rower, Hamadou Djibo Issaka of Niger, was compared to Eric the Eel for achieving a slow time in his event.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lord, Craig (2000-09-19). "Courage on the blocks". Sydney Olympics 2000: Swimming News Archive. The Times. Retrieved 2008-05-09. "Moussambani would plough a lonely lane for his finest 1mins 52.7 sec, though it felt like an hour. Equatorial Guinea’s aquatic answer to Eddie the Eagle - Eric the Eel - churned the lane in which Ian Thorpe had raced to a silver medal in 1 min 45 sec over double the distance the day before." 
  2. ^ Wallis, Holly (8 August 2012). "London 2012: The Olympic also-rans". BBC News. Retrieved 2012-08-09. 
  3. ^ "African novice makes big splash," BBC News, September 19, 2000
  4. ^ "Olympian from the Equator wins at a crawl", The Guardian, September 20, 2000
  5. ^ "Barila Bolopa paddles her way to Olympic stardom", Agence France-Presse, September 21, 2000
  6. ^ "'Paula the Crawler' sets record", BBC, September 22, 2000
  7. ^ "Eric 'the Eel' misses Games". BBC Sport. 2004-08-09. Retrieved 2001-05-31. "Eric 'the Eel' Moussambani's chances of competing at the Athens Olympics have been scuppered by problems over his application form. Officials were unable to locate his passport photograph, preventing him from competing for Equatorial Guinea." 
  8. ^ Brown, Alex (2004-08-06). "Struggling to keep himself afloat". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2001-05-31. "Despite cutting his personal best for the 100m from 1 minute 52.72 seconds in Sydney to under 57s today, a sponsorless, near-broke Moussambani fears that failure to compete in Athens will force him into retirement." 
  9. ^ "The A-Z of watching Olympics", Courier Mail, July 25, 2008
  10. ^ Eric Moussambani nuevo entrenador del equipo nacional de natación, guineaecuatorialpress, March 10, 2012.
  11. ^ "Mød Stany the Stingray", Ekstra Bladet, August 15, 2008
  12. ^ "En Sydney fue Mussambani; en Pekín, el congoleño Ngangola", La Nacion, August 15, 2008
  13. ^ "Move over Eddie the Eagle and éric the Eel", The Gazette, August 15, 2008
  14. ^ "Stany the stingray", Sydney Morning Herald, August 14, 2008
  15. ^ "'The Snail' takes up where 'The Eel' left off", The Independent, August 15, 2008
  16. ^ "Lovable losers - the Olympic ideal or waste of space", AFP, July 6, 2008
  17. ^ "Games also mean coming in last", International Herald Tribune, August 23, 2008
  18. ^ "World Athletics: shot-putter Savannah Sanitoa overshadows Usain Bolt's sprint exploits". Daily Telegraph. 2009-08-16. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  19. ^ "Sanitoa, la nueva Moussambani" (in Spanish). La Nación. 2009-08-17. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 

External links[edit]