World Class Heart

by : Tony Papajohn

Have you ever heard of Eric Moussambani?

The 21-year-old swimmer represented Equatorial Guinea in the Sydney Olympics and competed in the 100-meter freestyle.

He didn’t win a medal, but he does have heart.

Moussambani made it to the Olympics only because of a special program for developing countries.

He competed in the last preliminary heat and was the only swimmer in the pool. Two other swimmers were disqualified for false starts.

For most Olympic swimmers, this would hardly be a big deal. However, Moussambani had never seen, much less swam in, an Olympic-sized pool.

All Equatorial Guinea could offer him was a small hotel pool that he could use only when guests were not in it.

On top of this, Moussambani had been swimming for only 9 months, had never even swum 100 meters, wore an outdated pair of trunks, and knew little more than the rudiments of swimming.

Yet, he dove in and swam with all his heart.

After one lap, he felt extreme fatigue. However, despite his ungainly technique, he was determined to finish.

Seventeen thousand people began to root for this guy. They rose to their feet, cheering and shouting encouragement.

By the time he became aware of the crowd, he was so exhausted he could hardly move. Yet, in response to their enthusiasm, he gave a final effort and finished.

The crowd burst into thunderous and sustained applause as though he had won a medal.

His time was 1 minute and 52 seconds, far slower than a world-class swimmer.

The crowd did not care. This guy swam with all his heart.

To honor his effort, the Australian team presented him with a “fast suit" worn by world-class swimmers.

Eric Moussambani may not be a world-class swimmer, but he is world class.