No medals, but still pleased to have competed

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No medals, but still pleased to have competed

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In sports, winners usually get the spotlight and losers are quickly forgotten. But athletes give their best in representing their countries, and that spirit was certainly on display at this year’s Summer Universiade.

On Wednesday, Ilsida Toemere of Suriname was a competitor in the women’s 10,000-meter final. Alla Kuliatina of Russia was the winner at 32 minutes 52.27 seconds, but as the Russian crossed the finish line, Toemere still had six laps to go. The 24-year-old finished in 44 minutes 25.28 seconds, last among the 14 runners. But despite the pouring rain, spectators at the Gwangju Main Stadium applauded her for her efforts.

Toemere may appear to be a less-than-stellar long-distance runner, but she is a star in Suriname, where she set a national record for the women’s marathon in 2013. Her record of 3 hours 40 minutes 30 seconds is far from the world record of 2:15.25, but was 17 minutes faster than the national record she broke.

“I’m just happy to race here representing my country,” she said.

In swimming, Tanzania’s Damian Msabila was the talk of the town, despite finishing last in all three events that he competed in.

On Thursday, the 24-year-old finished the men’s 50-meter freestyle in 33.40 seconds, 10.59 seconds behind the United States’ Seth Stubblefield, who clocked 22.41 seconds to win the heat. Excluding five swimmers who were disqualified, Msabila was at the bottom of the heap.

He was also last in the 50-meter breaststroke, at 44.62 seconds, and in the 50-meter backstroke, at 48.82. The gold medalists in these two events came in at 27.34 (breaststroke) and 25.25 (backstroke).

But Msabila was smiling because, he said, he wasn’t disqualified in any of the three events. The University of Dar es Salaam student said he first started swimming in 2013 after watching the U.S. swimming star Michael Phelps. This was Msabila’s first time competing in a swimming pool that met international standards; his training was in rivers.

“I’m just satisfied that I’m in the international event,” he said, wearing the Tanzania national football team’s uniform to promote his home country. “Rankings aren’t important to me.”

Zimbabwe’s Sithandazile Moyo surprised everyone in the women’s golf competition at Gold Lake Country Club in Naju, South Jeolla. In her opening round Wednesday, she carded a 100-over 172, 104 strokes behind the first round leaders at 4-under 68. On the sixth hole alone, the 25-year-old scored 26-over par.

Moyo started golfing three years ago. After her round, she said mournfully that this was the worst round of her career and complained that the golf courses in Korea were too long. She didn’t compete in the final round, but her overall score for three rounds was 269-over 485. The winner, Lee Jeong-eun, carded a 9-under 279.

In men’s recurve archery, Nepal’s Prakash Gurung received applause from the spectators, despite scoring 532 points in the preliminary rounds, 161 points behind No. 1 Lee Seung-yun. The 22-year-old from Purbanchal University hung in, hoping to wash away memories of the country’s horrific earthquake in April.

“Korea participated in the 1948 London Olympics and the 1954 FIFA World Cup in Switzerland under poor conditions, but those experiences and a challenging spirit became the cornerstone of the country,” said Son Hwan, a Chung-Ang University professor who specializes in sports history.

BY KIM JI-HAN, JOO KYUNG-DON [joo.kyungdon@joongang.co.kr]

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