Today's Article - Eric the Eel

This article is for quizzes on Wednesday November 11th...

Eric Moussambani Malonga (born May 31, 1978) is a swimmer from Equatorial Guinea. Nicknamed "Eric the Eel" by the media after the name first appeared in an article by Craig Lord in The Times newspaper in London, Moussambani won brief international fame at the 2000 Summer Olympics. He swam his heat of the 100 m freestyle in 1:52.72. His time was more than twice that of his faster competitors, and outside the time for the 200 m world record. He set a new personal best and Equatoguinean national record. As of 2012 Moussambani is the coach of the national swimming squad of Equatorial Guinea.
Moussambani gained entry to the Olympics without meeting the minimum qualification requirements via a wildcard draw designed to encourage participation by developing countries lacking full training facilities. While Pieter van den Hoogenband won in a time of 48.30 seconds (setting a world record of 47.84 in the semi-finals), Moussambani took more than twice that time to finish (1:52.72). "The last 15 metres were very difficult", Moussambani said. Because the other two swimmers in his heat made false starts, and were thus disqualified, he won the heat unopposed.

Before coming to the Olympics, Moussambani had never seen a 50 m (160 ft) long Olympic-size swimming pool. He took up swimming eight months before the Olympics and had practiced in a lake in Malabo.

His performance generated spectator and media interest in Paula Barila Bolopa, the only other Equatoguinean swimmer at the Sydney Olympics. She competed in the women's 50 meters freestyle event, struggling to finish the race with a time of 1:03.97. In setting a record for the slowest time in Olympic history for that event, she also achieved minor celebrity status.

Despite lowering his personal best down to under 57 seconds, Moussambani was denied entry into the 2004 Olympic Games due to a visa bungle. He did not take part in the 2008 Summer Olympics.[9] In March 2012 he was appointed coach of the national swimming squad of Equatorial Guinea.


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