Hamadou Djibo Issaka of the landlocked country of Niger trailed his competitors by 300 m in a men’s singles sculls heat at the 2012 London Olympics, having trained for three months in a fishing boat. He finished to a standing ovation.
Eric Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea completed a 100-m freestyle heat in the 2000 Sydney Olympics 43 sec. outside the qualifying time. The swimmer, later nicknamed Eric the Eel, did win hearts.
TRACK AND FIELD
Trevor Misipeka, a shot putter from American Samoa, was entered in the 100-m sprint at Canada’s 2001 World Championships after a rules mix-up. He finished in 14.28 sec., an impressive pace for the 290-lb. athlete.
This appears in the March 13, 2017 issue of TIME.