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HomeSport"Robel the Whale" of Ethiopia at Rio 2016 : Swimming

“Robel the Whale” of Ethiopia at Rio 2016 : Swimming

August 9,2016

You probably have not heard before Ethiopia competing in swimming at Olympic games. Yes, it was for the first time that Ethiopia an athlete to compete in that category at Rio.

Robel Kiron Habte - Swimming- source Reuters - via Daily mail
Athlete Robel Kiron Habte Image Credit :Reuters via Daily mail

As it turns out, athlete Robel Kiros Habte seem to have made Ethiopia known in a rather unexpected way. His Pudgy stature combined with his 59th out of 59 athletes in the preliminary heat of 100 meters men’s free style many not be easily forgettable -at least in Ethiopia. He made headline in the Daily Mail “Meet Robel the Whale: Ethiopian swimmer displays a very unathletic paunch for 100 metres… And finishes last by half a lap” (video is below)

And it looks like president of Ethiopian Swimming Federation is his father.But chances are that Ethiopia paid for his lousy presence at Rio 2016.

Ethiopia ‘s prestigious position in Olympic is in athletics – long distance and recently in middle distance too.

The next swimming event for Ethiopia at Rio is women’s 50 meters free styles on Friday August 12 at 12:02 pm.

In the first day of competition, Tsgabu Grmay competed in Men’s road cycling and managed to finish the race- that is about it.

Could Ethiopians expect good result from Rio 2016 ?

Despite unprecedented volatile political situation and unrest in the country since the ruling party came to power 25 years ago -which may have a negative implication in the psychology of Ethiopian Athletes, there are hopes among Ethiopians that the athletes will remain focused in the Olympic games and win golds for Ethiopia.

In fact the coach seem to be optimist about it. In an interview with CCTV Africa, Ethiopian Athletics Coach Hussien Shebo is quoted as saying : “The Ethiopian team has a very good track record in different international and Olympic tournaments. We have been training hard to possibly repeat that good result at the upcoming Olympics. The team has prepared itself physically and mentally…”

In terms of composition, 70 percent of the team is composed of young athletes and the remaining 30 percent constitutes experienced athletes with outstanding reputation in their respective categories.

Ethiopia has six athletes for the women marathon event. Marie Dibaba ,world marathon champion, is one of them. Hopes are high that Marie Dibaba would win Olympic gold medal.

Tirunesh Dibaba has been away for nearly two years on maternity leave. In what will be her fourth Olympic appearance, she intends to win another Olympic gold at the women’s 10,000 meters event and she is a women of her words!

Ethiopia has been participating in the Olympic games since the 1950’s and missed only three Olympic games during the military government of colonel Mengistu Hailemariam due to boycott of the Olympic games by the communist block.

The First Olympic Gold medalist in what the West refers to as “sub-Sahara Africa” (euphemism for black Africa) was Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia. As a show of strength, endurance and invincibility of Ethiopia, he run marathon barefoot and he won it.

Africa’s first women Olympic Gold Medalist was from Ethiopia too ; Derartu Tulu at Barcelona Olympic.




  1. I just noticed the haters who are so jealous of this handsome gentleman who did his best at the Rio Olympics. For what it is worth know this sugar. The people with these sour comments didn’t make the team because they aren’t good enough. You my friend are a true champion in my book. Win or lose you tried and that’s more than half these clowns can say for themselves. I am proud of you and I find you to be an inspiration. If God wanted us all to have ripped bodies he would have created us as such. God made no mistakes doll. You are a hero and I am happy for your accomplishments. You did well my friend. Take much pride and hold your head high. I will pray for the less fortunate for they know not what they say or do. You made history tonight for your country and God saw that. You have many blessings coming your way and a lot of children will be encouraged now to step outside the running box and jump in head first to the blessed waters. That takes strength and courage. Something a lot of people lack these days. May God bless you and yours the rest of your days. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Be proud. You have every reason to be nothing less.

  2. @Theatus Chapman,
    Although I understand why you would think this is just a silly body-shaming, it’s not. Robel represents everything wrong with Ethiopian politics right now. He didn’t go to Rio because he is the best in Ethiopia; he went because he is the son of the president of Ethiopian Water Sports Federation. He didn’t win any competition in Ethiopia or anywhere. He isn’t even a professional swimmer. There are many professional swimmers in Ethiopia who will die for this opportunity. Unfortunately they don’t have a politician father. I hope this gives you a perspective. Cheers.


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