Ethiopian Olympic swimmer Robel Kiros Habt was being branded a “whale” following his poor performance at the Rio Games and his extra weight. He finished last in the Preliminary Men’s 100m Freestyle heats at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium.
The 24 year old was the only one of the 59 entrants in the heats not to complete the distance in under a minute. He was ranked 59th with a time of 1 minute 4.95 seconds.
Viewers made fun of the Ethiopian athlete’s body shape and compared it to his competitors. Some were particularly harsh in their commentary by dubbing him a “whale” and “fat”. Media reports referred to him as “tubby, “chubby” and “overweight”. The Daily Mail even invited readers to “meet Robel the whale”
The Ethiopia-based university student, whose entry for Rio was secured on a special invitation from world body FINA (International Swimming Federation) extended to athletes from under-represented countries, on Wednesday spoke about how the criticism had affected him.
“It has been difficult,” he told the Daily Mail. “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,” he said.