The most infamous Olympians
'Faster, stronger, higher' is the credo of the Olympic games. Three words in which the world's best athletes are judged by every four years as billions of people around the world watch on. It's the platform where people push human sporting endeavour to its limits and, most of the time, they even do it without the help of doping.
But for as many Carl Lewis' and Michael Phelps' there are occupying the top step of the medals podiums, for other atheltes the dream of merely competitng at the Olympics is one of true accomplishment. Sure, the medals are great but here are a list of atheletes that have left their own legacy on the Games in one way or another.
Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards was a British ski jumper and skier who became famous in 1988 as the first competitor since 1929 to represent Great Britain at Olympic ski jumping. Finishing last in both the 70m and 90m events, Eddie was a classic underdog and the perfect example of misguided determination in the face of imminent failure.
Better known as “The Snow Leopard”, Glasgow-born Kwame was a proud Ghanaian whose passion for skiing was ignited whilst working at an indoor ski slope in Milton Keynes. From humble beginnings, Kwame went on to became Ghana’s first ever Winter Olympian, taking part in the Vancouver Games of 2010 where he finished 53rd out of 102 participants, of whom 54 actually finished
Dubbed “Eric the Eel” by the media, Eric Moussambani was a swimmer from Equatorial Guinea, infamous for his performance at the 2000 Sydney Olympics where he swam his heat of the 100m freestyle in a laboriously slow time of 1:52.72. Eric’s time was double that of his competitors, and was even notoriously slower than the time for the 200 m world record. Despite appearing as a relative failure in comparison to other athletes, Eric still managed set an Equatoguinean national record and later when to the coach the country’s national swimming squad. Shockingly, they haven’t competed since.
The 1988 Jamaican Bobsled Team
If you’ve ever seen the 1993 Disney film ‘Cool Runnings’ you’ll likely be the familiar with the story of this rag-tag team of Jamaicans who captured the hearts and minds of all the world’s nations at the Calgary Winter Olympics. Though the film portrays the team as coming painstakingly close to medal contention before their climactic crash, in reality the Jamaicans were in 26th (last) place with a cumulative time of 3:00.60 after three runs. Despite that, the story still remains one that inspires anyone to always give their best no matter how much of an outsider they may be.
Philip Boit, whose name was seemingly too difficult for tabloids to muster up a nickname for, was the first Kenyan to ever compete at the Winter Olympics. Boit’s sport of choice was cross-country skiing and it was at the 1998 Nagano Olympics where he made himself a household name after finishing disastrous 92nd out of 92 competitors in the 10-kilometer classic race. Unperturbed by his failure, Boit went on to compete at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics where he managed to beat three competitors and finish 64th in the sprint race and in the 2006 Turn Olympics where he finished 92nd in the 15km Classic, this time ousting five other athletes. Boit is living proof that hard work yields improvement. Admittedly not massive improvement, but improvement nonetheless.
Pursuit of the gold medal can make you do some rather unsporting things, ain't that right Marion Jones and Ben Johnson? Although in the case of Swedish Greco-Roman wrestler Ara Abrahamian it wasn't so much chemical tampering, but more blind range and threats towards the judges during his semi-final in the 84kg catagory in Beijing 2008.
Incensed by decisions made the judges, which cost him his place in the final, the wrestler attempted to confront them and had to be restrained by his team-mates. The wrestler shouted at the referee and then angrily approached them before being held back. The ill-feeling had not passed by the time the medals were presented a day later, as while standing on the podium, Abrahamian took off his bronze medal and left it on the step as he walked off in disgust.
Hamadou Djibo Issaka
Hamadou Djibo Issaka, christened "Issaka the Otter", was a Nigerien athlete who rowed in the Men's single sculls for the 2012 London Olympics. Issaka gained notoriety for his first Olympic appearance in the 2000 metre single sculls heat, where he finished dead last with a time of 8:25.56, a startling 1 minute and 40 seconds behind the winner of the heat and roughly a minute behind even his nearest competitor. Despite receiving a great deal of support from the crowd, legendary rower Steve Redgrave was not impressed and went on to heavily criticise Issaka’s performance and placement in the games.