Moussambani was the first swimmer to compete in the Olympics for Equatorial Guinea, a Central African nation with less than one million inhabitants at the time.
“On an international level and on a competitive level I didn’t have much experience, really none at all. I didn’t know how to move my arms, feet, and coordinate my breathing in the water. I didn’t have much experience of any of that.”
Moussambani, nicknamed ‘Eric the Eel’ by fans and sponsors, had only recently learned to swim and had never seen a 50-metre pool before arriving in Sydney.
“Here in (Equatorial) Guinea we did not have Olympic size swimming pools, and in the pool where I trained, in the old Hotel Ureca, it was a 12-metre-pool, I think,” he said.
“It would be more or less like this one here. A pool that small and I would train at five in the morning.”
That swim, for which he was not properly trained, but in which he embodied the Olympic spirit, transformed his life.
Moussambani became a symbol for swimming in Equatorial Guinea,
The country now counts two Olympic-size pools.