Not all the athletes who competed in the London Olympics went home with a medal. But all went home with the satisfaction of knowing that they competed among the world’s elite.
One is Niger’s Hamadou Djibo Issaka. He raced in the men’s single rowing event near Windsor, England. Issaka finished last, but to the sound of a roaring crowd.
“I passed the finish line,” he told the Associated Press. “It was great.”
Issaka, who had taken up rowing only a few months earlier, was invited to the games by the International Olympic Committee. It allows entries to countries that had only a few athletes in previous Olympics. Because the reserved spots were in particular events for which the countries did not necessarily have expert athletes, some competitors like Issaka took crash courses in a sport.
It might have been a daunting situation, but it inspired appreciation for sports and competition generally. Issaka, an accomplished swimmer, said he now will encourage others to take up the sport of rowing … his new sport.