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Sogelau Tuvalu, the sprinter who trailed 40 m behind in a 100 m race.

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American Samoa, the tiny nation, is better known for producing football and wrestling stars, but never gave any winning sprinter.

That didn’t stop Sogelau Tuvalu, 17, competing in one of the 100 m races at the IAAF (International Association of  Athletics Federations) World Championships in Athletics in Daegu, South Korea.

 

Sogelau Tuvalu, the American Samoan sprinter was twice the size of the other six competitors and was the only athlete not wearing spikes on his shoes, risking a false start.

But despite setting off perfectly, Sogelau Tuvalu immediately trailed behind the competitors by a distance of about 40 m at one point.

Sogelau Tuvalu was twice the size of the other six competitors and was the only athlete not wearing spikes on his shoes photo

Sogelau Tuvalu was twice the size of the other six competitors and was the only athlete not wearing spikes on his shoes

The American Samoan sprinter finished last with a time of 15.66 seconds, being 6 seconds slower than winner Mohammad Noor Imran A Hadi from Malaysia.

Wagering websites had listed Sogelau Tuvalu’s odds of winning at 50,000-to-1.

Sogelau Tuvalu’s time is the second slowest in the history of the championships.

Despite setting off perfectly Sogelau Tuvalu immediately trailed behind the competitors by a distance of about 40 m at one point photo

Despite setting off perfectly, Sogelau Tuvalu immediately trailed behind the competitors by a distance of about 40 m at one point

2003 World champion, Kim Collins, from the Carribean nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, failed to qualify for the event in Athens in 1997 with his time of 21.73.

Sogelau Tuvalu is the latest in a line of athletes from American Samoa, which has a population of 67,000, who failed to qualify for the shot put.


Athletes from tiny countries are not required to meet the qualifying standards for track events.

In an interview with French television, Sogelau Tuvalu said he trained 4 hours a day for one month leading up to the meet.

The sprinter achieved his personal best and was upbeat about his efforts.

A reporter asked him: “Did you believe that one day you could race in a world championship?”

Sogelau Tuvalu replied: “I believed in myself. This is a dream come true.”

At the 2001 championships in Canada, spectators did a double take when Trevor Misipeka – who weighed about 135 kg – took to the track.

He was nicknamed Trevor the Tortoise after finishing last in his heat with a time of 14.28 seconds.

Trevor Misipeka, 32, plays now in the Arena Football League for the Quad City Steamwheelers in Moline, Illinois.

In 2009, in Berlin, 100 kg weight Savannah Sanitoa, then 22, found herself in a similar situation.

She crossed the finish line at 14.23 seconds, losing her heat by nearly 3 seconds.

But Savannah Sanitoa still managed to escape being the slowest in the 100 m on the day. That honour went to Tioiti Katutu from Kiribati, another nation of the Pacific, who clocked 14.38 seconds.

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