Robel the Whale Vows to Compete in the Tokyo Olympics

Robel Kiros Habte of Ethiopia competes in heat 1 of the Men's 100m Freestyle race of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Swimming events at Olympic Aquatics Stadium at the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 09 August 2016. EPA/DAVE HUNT AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

Robel the Whale, the Ethiopian swimmer who was heavily talked about in the Rio Olympics, has set his eyes on Tokyo for 2020.

Every Olympics event features someone that occupies the attention of the whole world. The attention may be positive or negative, but there is always a star. The Rio Olympics featured Robel Kiros Habte, an Ethiopian swimmer now affectionately known as “Robel the Whale”, a name given to him because of his humorous performance at the 100 meter freestyle swimming event. Robel the Whale was criticized by the media for not having a swimmer’s physique, and he solidified their guess as to his performance when he finished last in the event, clocking a time 17 seconds slower than Australian pacesetter Kyle Chalmers.

Robel’s initial reaction to the heavy criticism, both from sport commentators and the social media, was to give up on his swimming career. But now, he has made a U-turn on his decision and has vowed to return for the next Tokyo Olympics.

“I have to be strong and overcome what people say about me,” Habte said.

“I will take the cyber and verbal bullying that I received after the Rio Olympics and convert them into motivations, which will help me achieve my set of goals and become the best swimmer that I can be.

“I am not that fat, but I do not have the right body for swimming now. But I will show them and I will help other swimmers from my country too.

“I have been hurt, but I can be stronger and fitter and stop the laughing that people have done.”

Recently, Robel the whale has set up a foundation named “Robel the Whale Foundation”, which he says will help Ethiopian swimmers achieve their goal. Perhaps aspiring Ethiopian swimmers do have something to learn from Robel the whale.