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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

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I /  August 6, 2012, 14:49 IST

Togo's 13-year-old , the youngest competitor at the London 2012 , 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 , 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 pool 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 Olympics.

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.

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