Ethiopian swimmer Robel Kiros Habte, nicknamed “Robel the Whale” who ranked 59th out of 59 participants across the heats in the Men’s 100m freestyle at #RioOlympics2016 has said that he is proud to have competed as a swimmer at the olympics.
Speaking to REUTERS, the 24-year-old university student said “I am so happy because it is my first competition in the Olympics. So thanks to God”.
Habte’s entry for Rio was secured on a special invitation from world body FINA extended to athletes from under-represented countries.
Habte, whose father is the president of Ethiopian Swimming Federation said that it wasn’t about winning, but about competing.
“I wanted to do something different for my country, that’s why I chose swimming. Everybody, every day you wake up in Ethiopia, you run. Not swimming. But I didn’t want to run, I wanted to be a swimmer. It didn’t matter where I finished,” he said.
Though he faced backlash on social media, Some Twitter users also celebrated him for making it to the Olympics:
#RobelKirosHabte made it to the Olympics and can swim stronger & faster than all you trolls sitting at home. He gained weight through injury
— Lydia Kent (@LydiaSKent) August 11, 2016
— Emily Pinckard (@epincks) August 11, 2016
Why people hating on Robel Kiros Habte, who cares if he got last. He’s still an Olympic swimmer.
— Colton Hutchinson (@ColtonMaurice) August 10, 2016
Robel Kiros Habte is my new hero. Give the guy some love. #Olympics
— Edward Kuruvilla (@edwardkuruvilla) August 10, 2016
Photo Credit: REUTERS