You are here: Home » PTI Stories » Sports » News
Business Standard

At 13, youngest Olympics competitor keeps it simple

Swimmer Adzo Kpossi, youngest competitor, trains in hotel pool due to dearth of public swimming baths in West Africa's Lome

AFP/PTI  |  London 

I / London August 6, 2012, 14:49 IST

Togo's 13-year-old Adzo Kpossi, the youngest competitor at the 2012 Olympics, trains in a hotel and wears costumes bought on sale at the market.

Her goal at the Games was simple: to beat her personal best of 44.60sec in the 50m freestyle -- a time nearly twice as long as the 23.73sec world record.

The teenager "has nothing to train with: no starting blocks, no flippers, no goggle straps", her father and coach Kwami Kpossi told AFP.

Due to a dearth of public swimming baths in the west African country's capital Lome, she trains five times a week at two hotel pools.

"The managers let us swim there for free" after school, said Kwami, a former sports teacher.

Even without these hurdles, Adzo's training represents a big sacrifice for her modest family.

"The is 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) from our house," her devoted father said.

"It costs us a lot of money. Every three days, I have to fill up the car. But the Togolese Olympic Committee gives us a fixed amount towards the petrol."

"I like the hard work," said Adzo in her soft voice, her hands buried in the pockets of a Togo top and her long feet overshooting the ends of her flip-flops.

Despite her dedication, the youngster failed to even reach the minimum standard required to secure a place at the

However, she was given a wildcard thanks to the Olympic tenet of representation coming from every corner of the globe.

Every national Olympic committee is allowed a spot in the athletics and swimming, regardless of whether their athletes meet the qualifying times.

First Published: Mon, August 06 2012. 14:49 IST