Djibo Issaka captivated the crowds over the weekend with show-stopping turns in the heats and the repechage of the single sculls, when he finished out of breath — and nearly two minutes behind the winners.
Complete with the warmest of smiles and extraordinary spirit, Djibo Issaka pushed his body to the limit in a lower qualification race this time. His mark of 9 minutes, 7.99 seconds for the 2,000-meter course was the slowest of his three races at the regatta by 28 seconds.
Wearing a yellow T-shirt underneath his orange-and-green Niger jersey, he was given a rousing reception as he passed the main grandstands 300 meters from the line.
“Give him a big cheer for plowing on,” the announcer said.
Like on Sunday, he bent over as soon as he crossed the line, taking deep breaths.
“I am very happy because this is my first time at an Olympics,” the 35-year-old Djibo Issaka said. “It’s not easy for me to be here. I don’t have any technique. I’ve been learning only three months. But with the time and the years, I’ll get the technique.”