DFL

Celebrating last-place finishes at the Olympics. Because they're there, and you're not.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Evening Results for Saturday, August 16

Athletics: In the women's shot put, the lowest result was put in by Lee Miyoung in group A of the qualifying round. The 29-year-old South Korean's best put was 15.1 metres; the gold medallist's best was 20.56 metres. Two athletes had no mark. In the staggering , 19-year-old Yana Maksimava of Belarus finished 35th with 4,806 points -- 1,927 points behind the gold medallist. There were eight DNFs. The slowest time in the men's 100-metre heats came in heat five, where Shanahan Sanitoa of American Samoa, 19, ran a time of 12.6 seconds -- which I think is the only 12-second-plus time in the heats. Still, not bad for a non-Jamaican.

Cycling: In the , 34-year-old Roberto Chiappa of Italy was relegated in his heat and finished 25th. In the qualifying round of the men's individual pursuit, Jenning Huizinga, 24, of the Netherlands had the slowest speed: 51.967 km/h. The gold medallist's average speed exceeded 56 km/h.

Weightlifting: 23-year-old Cristina Cornejo of Peru finished 10th with a total combined lift of 225 kg in the ; the gold medallist's total was 326 kg. There was one DNF.

Standings to date: Italy moves into 6th place, South Korea into 16th.

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Afternoon Results for Saturday, August 16

Cycling: In the , French cyclist Christophe Riblon, 27, lost 20 lap points and finished 21st with a score of –17, compared with the gold medallist's score of 60. There were two DNFs.

Rowing: : Homa Hosseini, 19, Iran, fourth in the E final. : Norberto Bernardez Avila, 21, Honduras, second in the F final; one DNS. : Kim Crow, 23, and Sarah Cook, 23, Australia, fourth in the B final. : Piotr Hojka, 24, and Jaros?aw Godek, 27, Poland, second in the C final. : Laura Schiavone, 21, and Elisabetta Sancassani, 25, Italy, fourth in the B final. : Haidar Nozad, 25, and Hussein Jebur, 32, Iraq, second in the C final; one exclusion. : the Chinese team of Zhang Xingbo, 27, Zhao Linquan, 21, Guo Kang, 20, and Song Kai, 24, did not make it out of the repechage.

Shooting: In the , Hong Kong's Wong Fai, 38, finished 18th with a score of 558; he would have needed at least 579 to advance to the final. There was one disqualification. In the , Roger Dahi, 46, representing Syria, finished 41st with a score of 91; he would have needed 118 to have a shot (sorry) at advancing.

Standings to date: Poland takes the lead! Australia moves into seventh place, China into ninth.

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China Embraces John Stephen Akhwari



John Stephen Akhwari's last-place finish in the marathon in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics is almost certainly considered the greatest last-place finish of all time, and Akhwari's response as to why he forced his injured body across the finish line, long after the rest of the field had finished, is almost certainly the epitome of the DFL spirit: "My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me to finish the race." (That quote has been presented in several versions, paraphrased and retranslated, but you get the gist.)

Forty years later, the organizers of the Beijing Games have brought Akhwari, now in his seventies, back into the spotlight. (Let's take it as given that he has not been replaced with a more photogenic, computer-generated nine-year-old Han Chinese girl.) Akhwari visited China over the New Year: he toured the Bird's Nest construction site, visited an elementary school and was even the subject of a music video:



And in April he ran in the torch relay when it passed through his home country of Tanzania. China's certainly earned its share of criticism for these Games, but embracing Akhwari -- even insofar as it means using him and what he represents propagandistically -- is a class act.

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Morning Results for Saturday, August 16

Athletics: The just wrapped up; Turkey's Recep ?elik, 25, finished 49th with a time of 1:32:54, which was 13:53 behind the gold medallist. There were two disqualifications.

Swimming: Heats for this morning events were run on Thursday. 17-year-old Christin Zenner of Germany finished last in the second heat of the women's 200-metre backstroke; her time was 2:20.28, just over 15 seconds slower that the gold medallist's final time. There was one DNS. In the men's 100-metre butterfly, Marco Camargo of Ecuador, 19, had the slowest heat time in heat one: his time of 57.48 was just over seven seconds slower than some freak's gold medal time. There was one DNS in the heats here, too. Next, the women's 800-metre freestyle: in heat one, 16-year-old Polish swimmer Karolina Paulina Szczepaniak -- this is why I don't do a podcast -- put in what appears to be a rather slow time of 9:08.87; the gold medal time in the final was 8:14.10. Another DNS in the heats here, too. And finally, the men's 50-metre freestyle, which was an event designated for wild card entries, only one of whom could finish last. The slowest time came in heat two from Stany Kempompo Ngangola, 34, representing the Democratic Republic of Congo (the one that used to be Zaire). His time of 35.19 seconds was 13.89 seconds behind the gold medallist's time of 21.3 seconds in the final.

Mr. Kempompo Ngangola runs a real risk of being anointed the next Eric the Eel by the media. A slow swim from a competitor representing a country in equatorial Africa -- the ostensible parallels are all too obvious. I'll hazard a guess and say that his story will be nothing like Moussambani's, but that won't stop anyone from trying. I only have the numbers at the moment, but let me use what little information I have to place his result in some kind of context. The 50-metre event, as I said, had a number of participants there because of a wild card draw; any one of them could have finished last. Mr. Kempompo Ngangola's heat was particularly slow: all but one had a time of more than 30 seconds. His performance, in other words, was not singularly awful.

What I'm trying to say is this: the first patronizing story I see about this event, watch out.

Standings to date: Poland and Germany each add their third DFLs, moving them into fourth and seventh place, respectively.

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