Robel Habte taking part in the 100m.

Ethiopian swimmer blames condition on car crash prior to Rio Olympics

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Social media can be a great place, but at other times, it can be quite nasty, and unfortunately for Ethiopian swimmer Robel Habte, he was on the wrong end of the platforms.

The 24-year-old caught the eye of thousands on social media after he appeared in the 100m freestyle swimming event, looking rather out of shape compared to his fellow competitors.

In fact, Twitter was quick to realise how badly the Ethiopian looked and suddenly the nickname 'The Whale' emerged.


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Habte was the only person, out of 59 entrants, to swim the 100m in over a minute, and he finished a staggering 17 seconds behind pacesetter Kyle Chalmers, who clocked 47.90 seconds.

It was a nightmare race from start to finish for Habte, who was already a bodies length behind after initially emerging from the water following his dive into the pool.

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However, the Ethiopian has hit back at his critics and has also admitted he can't go on Twitter because some of the abuse is too much for him to handle.

In a column for the Daily Mail, Habte revealed he was involved in a car crash which kept him sidelined for around two months, which resulted in him putting on 99lbs of flab.

Despite his poor performance in the pool, the fans in attendance gave Habte a standing ovation, letting them know they appreciate his efforts.

Despite that, people on Twitter were not so kind, and he's admitted that some of the comments have been hard for him to swallow.

Swimming - Olympics: Day 4

He said: 'It has been difficult. Too difficult, I don't know how I feel, but many things. Some of the things people have said or written are not nice.

'I am a nice person, I would not say these things about others. They have used dirty language against me and called me fat and a big man and a whale.

'I don't know these people, but maybe after one week I can go back to the internet.

'I know my body is fat, but I will lose the weight and when I go to Canada for the World Championships… I will show them

'I was not surprised that I finished far behind and last. I was expecting that.

'Ethiopia is not a swimmers' country and I have not trained in an Olympic size pool.

'Everyone (other competitors) were swimming 47 seconds times and I had never done that. So how could I have won gold?

'My country is famous for runners. I wanted to be famous for being a swimmer. But now I am different famous and it is difficult.'

Due to the car crash, Habte couldn't train and he admitted himself that he's not in good condition.

'My weight went up to 120kgs (260lb) and that is too heavy. I am now around 82kgs (180lb) and that is better but still much.

'I should be 72 (158lb) or 74kgs (163lb) when I swim. But I could not manage it. My girlfriend Selam was telling me I had to lose weight, but I could not do it all.'

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