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

Sunday, August 24, 2008

'Stany the Stingray'

I was right, and I should have looked into it sooner. There was a media frenzy about Stany Kempompo Ngangola, the 34-year-old swimmer from the Democratic Republic of Congo who had the slowest time in the men's 50-metre freestyle. In fact, they were waiting for him, like vultures, before he had even swam; this Australian columnist proclaimed him a friend of Eric the Eel and drew attention to his extremely slow qualifying time. It turns out that that qualifying time was a typo, that he'd never even met Eric Moussambani, and that his result . I mean, it wasn't good -- 35.19 seconds, 13.89 seconds behind the gold medallist in the final -- but it wasn't Moussambani-class drown-in-the-pool awful. The only ones looking ridiculous here are the media who were fishing for an easy mark -- hoping to find yet another central African to make fun of for a good wacky-Olympics story. I'm delighted that they were disappointed.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

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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