Twitter Users Are Slamming This Olympic Swimmer

August 11th 2016

Aimee Kuvadia

Most sports fans visualize athletes, particularly the ones talented enough to make their way to the Olympics, as having bodies that are in perfect physical condition. That's probably why Twitter users have been throwing shade at 24-year-old Ethiopian Olympic swimmer Robel Kiros Habte, who doesn't exactly have the chiseled physique of Michael Phelps.

Some of the critiques of Habte's body actually come from media publications, not just Twitter trolls. And what's strange is that many of the digs seem as though they are trying to compliment Habte, even as they use adjectives like "tubby" to describe him.

It is true Habte finished dead last in the 100-meter freestyle event with a time of 1 minute 4.95 seconds, according to Mic.


Upworthy reports he clocked in 17 seconds slower than first place finisher Kyle Chalmers, "which is probably something like five months in swimmer time." But at an athletic competition, it seems fair to judge an athlete for his performance, and not his physique. Mic writes that some viewers have dubbed 179-pound Habte "Robel the Whale" and are skeptical of why Habte qualified for the Olympics in the first place. They believe nepotism may have played a role, since Habte's father serves as president of the Ethiopian Swimming Federation.

Still, it seems there would be more ideal methods of expressing discontent than fat-shaming. But lucky for the Ethiopian swimmer, there were plenty of Twitter users who stood by him and his arguably imperfect physique.

Leisel Jones, the first Australian swimmer to compete in four Olympic games, admits she struggled with body image during her athletic career, too, the Australian outlet ABC reports. After she acknowledged that she would not look like fitness-obsessed Instagram models, she began seeing her body differently.


A photo posted by Leisel Jones (@leisel_jones) on

About her Olympics career, she tells ABC:

"We weren't there to look amazing. They didn't hand out gold medals just because you look more of an athlete than someone else. I received gold medals and won gold medals because I was the best athlete there was."