Ethopian Athlete First Swimmer to Draw Cheers from Crowd in Rio

He came in a full 12 seconds behind his competitors

This is Robel Kiros Habte.


He’s a swimmer from Ethiopia who entered the Games through a special invitation from the Fédération Internationale de Nation (FINA), which is the international governing body of swimming. FINA extended invitations to athletes from countries that didn’t have a lot of athletes at the Games.

Habte told Reuters that he wanted to do something different for his country, which is better known for it’s runners.

“Every day you wake up in Ethiopia, you run. Not swimming. But I didn’t want to run, I wanted to be a swimmer.”

He was ranked 59 out of 59 athletes and finished the preliminary heats half a lap behind everyone else, but drew massive applause when he finished.

He also got a lot of love on Twitter:

Naturally, there were also a few haters:

If you don’t have haters, you’re not doing it right. Keep on being awesome, Robel!

(header image via Atos on Flickr)