(Updated July 29 at 1:20 pm MT)
Overlooked by American media yesterday, as far as I know, was Hamadou Djibo Issaka, a 35-year-old rower from Niger. He learned his sport just three months ago and earned a wildcard invitation to the London Olympics “to strengthen the principle of universal representation.”
He finished last in the single scull repechage*, barely managing to pull himself across the finish line in 8 minutes 39.66 seconds — almost 1.40 minutes behind the winner. But he won the hearts of the crowd who cheered him on and the announcer who, blessed with a microphone, yelled, “You can do it!”
This is what the Olympics are all about. My thanks to Kate Shrewsday, who attended the event (lucky woman) for bringing this to my attention.
P.S. AP did a more in-depth story on this that appears on the NBC Olympics website, where I must remember to look first for any story about the Olympics.
And my civics lesson for the day: Someone from Niger is a Nigerien (with an e); someone from Nigeria is a Nigerian (with an a). Djibo Issaka is from Niger.
*A trial heat (as in rowing) in which first-round losers are given another chance to qualify for the semifinals. From the French repêchage, second chance.