FINA In The Slow Lane As It Stamps Olympic Tickets For The Boys Of The Old Boys’ Club

FINA - invitations for the boys of the boys

Ethiopia loses around 16.5 percent of its GDP each year to the long-term effects of child malnutrition. That’s just one of the statistics that emerged from “The Cost of Hunger in Africa” study a couple of year ago.

The study measured the economic impact of malnutrition in 12 countries in Africa. It was carried out with the support of the African Union Commission.

The lasting effects of malnutrition still weigh heavily on the Ethiopian economy: undernutrition costs the country billions of dollars every year in lost worker productivity. Here are 10 of its key findings of the report.

  1. More than 2 out of every 5 children in Ethiopia suffer from stunting, which means they’re short for their age. Stunting is a lifelong condition that results when children miss out on critical nutrients while in the womb or during the first five years of their lives.
  2. As many as 81% of all cases of child undernutrition and its related pathologies go untreated.
  3. 44% of the health costs associated with undernutrition occur before the child turns 1 year-old.
  4. 28% of all child mortality in Ethiopia is associated with undernutrition.
  5. 16% of all repetitions in primary school are associated with stunting
  6. Stunted children achieve 1.1 years less in school education.
  7. Child mortality associated with undernutrition has reduced Ethiopia’s workforce by 8%
  8. 67% of the adult population in Ethiopia suffered from stunting as children.
  9. The annual costs associated with child undernutrition are estimated at Ethiopian birr (ETB) 55.5 billion, which is equivalent to 16.5% of GDP.
  10. Eliminating stunting in Ethiopia is a necessary step for its growth and transformation.

There’s a lot more of that kind of thing to be read out there own the subject of hunger, malnutrition, Ethiopia and elsewhere. What has all that got to do with Rio 2016, the Olympic Game and SwimVortex?

Plenty, sadly. It comes down to this man: Robel Kiros Habte. He was described as chubby and nicknamed the Whale. Eric the Eel, where are you now?

Hate is 24, less athletic than half the media bench up here in the stands at the Rio Aquatics Centre – and slower on 100m freestyle than my sister was when she was just getting the hang of being a teenager. He clocked 1:04.95 in the first heat of the 100m freestyle yesterday and finished last of 59 men overall, 7.19sec behind the bloke in 58th place.

Habte would not have been too great a threat to Duke Kahanamoku (USA) as he claimed the Stockholm 1912 100m free title in 1:03.40 but would have given Cecil Healy (AUS), 1:04.60 for silver, reason to get a wriggle on.

The height of politeness would describe Habte as plump. In the home of Phelps, Lochte, Peaty, Campbells & Co, well … he’s fat.

He’s here by FINA invitation. And his dad’s the president of the Ethiopian Swimming Federation, according to a total wave of twitter complaints. The name stacks up.

Habte acknowledged he had swum faster, his personal best being 59.08 seconds, and suggested morning training had left him feeling strained. But he told Reuters he was delighted anyway. “I am so happy because it is my first competition in the Olympics,” said the Ethiopia-based university student. “So thanks for God.”

“I wanted to do something different for my country, that’s why I chose swimming,” he said. “Everybody, every day you wake up in Ethiopia, you run. Not swimming. But I didn’t want to run, I wanted to be a swimmer. It didn’t matter where I finished.”


We applaud any efforts by Habte to self-improve. But this, Mr Habte, is no place for you. Swimming – and especially Olympic swimming is universal but standards apply and should be applied.

Stunted was your performance. Better that the budget goes to people for whom stunted has a whole different meaning.

FINA: Is this how invitations are handed out? On what basis was this one granted as world-class swimmers sit home but the vote and patting of backs races on apace?  Shame on you.


Ethiopia loses around 16.5 percent of its GDP each year to the long-term effects of child malnutrition. That’s just one of the statistics that emerged from “The Cost of Hunger in Africa” study a couple of year ago. Perhaps FINA might want to consider such facts, as well as the clock and their conscience when they hand out Olympic tickets to folk who have no place at the Games


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