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Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Three underachievers who gained sporting notoriety

Maidstone Mixture: was a winner at Cartmel, but not Epsom
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While opinion is divided about who will win next Saturday's Investec Derby, the unanimous belief is that rank outsider Diore Lia will be bringing up the rear. Here are some other sporting longshots who dared to dream.

Eddie The Eagle

Michael 'Eddie' Edwards soared, or should that be hopped, into the public's consciousness when he represented Britain in ski-jumping at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada.

Edwards tried his best, but that proved to be a long way short of Olympic standard. He finished last in both the 70 metre and 90 metre events, and a long way last. To put things in perspective, he scored 69.2 points from two jumps of 55m in the 70m category. Bernat Sola Pujol of Spain, who was second-last, scored 140.4 points from 71m and 68.5m jumps.

Although the British public embraced him as a loveable loser, the International Olympic Committee was  less impressed and subsequently changed the entry requirements to make it much tougher for anyone else to follow his example.

Eric The Eel

Another Olympian who captured the imagination, Eric Moussambani was an unlikely swimmer, and even more unlikely winner at the 2000 games in Sydney, Australia.

Representing Equitorial Guinea, Moussambani had taken up swimming only eight months beforehand, and he qualified for the games via a wildcard draw designed to encourage developing countries lacking training facilities.


Apprentice comes out fighting in defence of Derby ride on Diore Lia


He had never seen an Olympic-sized swimming pool before Sydney, yet, incredibly, won his 100m freestyle heat when his two rivals false-started. He did so, however, in an unprecedentedly slow time, 1 min 52.72 sec. Victory in the event at the games went to Pieter van den Hoogenband, who won in a time of 48.30 seconds.

However, Moussambani's time did set a then-national record for his country, and in 2012 he was made head coach of the national swimming team.

Maidstone Mixture

Diore Lia's participation in the Derby as an apparent no-hoper is nothing new, as in 2008 Maidstone Mixture was widely reckoned to be the worst horse ever to contest the Epsom Classic.

Winner of a jumps race in France for Richard Chotard, Maidstone Mixture moved to Paul Murphy as Chotard felt the horse was completely unsuited for the Derby and refused to train him.

Bookmakers were uniform in their belief the son of Linamix would trail home last, and they were proved right as the 250-1 shot was 16 of 16, beaten 89 lengths. However, Maidstone Mixture did become a winner again when he won a novice hurdle at Cartmel later that year.

However, Moussambani's time set a then national record for his country, and in 2012 he was made head coach of the national swimming team

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