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Nigerian rower crawls home but wins crowd
Steve Douglas
21:06 AEST Sun Jul 29 2012

"You can do it," roared the announcer at Dorney Lake. Some of the crowd were on their feet, urging him on to the line.

No, this wasn't a British rower sprinting for gold. This was Hamadou Djibo Issaka, crawling to the finishing hooter in last place in a single sculls repechage at the London Olympics.

It wasn't quite "Eric the Eel" of Sydney Games fame - but it wasn't far off.

Djibo Issaka, a 35-year-old Nigerian, only learnt how to row three months ago but was given a wildcard to the London Olympics "to strengthen the principle of universal representation."

With a less-than-impressive technique and with the tank almost empty, he slumped over as he crossed the line on Sunday in 8 minutes 39.66 seconds - nearly 1.40 minutes behind the race winner.

Fellow wildcard Eric Moussambani also became a fan and media favourite at the Sydney Games in 2000 with his awkward technique and slow performances.

His one minute, 52.72 seconds in the 100 metres freestyle heats was more than double that of leading competitors and even outside the 200-metre world record.

Earlier this year, the Eel was named the Equatorial Guinea Olympic swimming team coach but the country did not bring a team to London.

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