Monday 20 November 2017

Rower trained in old fishing boat

Niger's Djibo Issaka in action in the men's single sculls at Eton Dorney Rowing Lake
Niger's Djibo Issaka in action in the men's single sculls at Eton Dorney Rowing Lake

Niger's Hamadou Djibo Issaka is an unlikely pioneer for rowing, given he has just three months' experience in the sport and he trained for the Olympics in an old fishing boat.

But the 35-year-old's exploits in London will kick-start a rowing programme in Niger, whose Olympic officials now plan to take the sport more seriously.

Djibo Issaka has been taken to the hearts of the Eton Dorney crowd after finishing a distant last in his heat, his repechage and again in the E semi-final.

He was roared every painfully slow stroke of the way down the two kilometre course, eventually finishing one minute 10 seconds behind his nearest rival.

But Djibo Issaka, a former national swimmer, is doing his country proud and he will be at the vanguard of Niger's attempts to adopt rowing as a serious sport.

First they need rowing boats. The land-locked sub-Saharan country will only take delivery of its first proper equipment following the Olympic Games.

"Now, we don't have any boats. No boats," Ahmadou Youssoufou, a member of the Niger Olympic Committee, said.

"With the help of Fisa (world rowing's governing body) we are getting two single sculls and two double sculls and some oars.

"They are coming in the next month so we can begin this sport in our country with the equipment.

"We have rivers and we have lakes. We think we have a real potential to do this sport in our country."

Press Association

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