The internet is rallying around this Ethiopian swimmer who was fat-shamed.

Robel Kiros Habte, a swimmer from Ethiopia, will not be taking home a medal in Rio de Janeiro this summer ... to put it kindly.

The 24-year-old finished 59th out of 59 competitors in the 100-meter freestyle heats this week at the Olympics. He was the only swimmer to finish above one minute, clocking in 17 seconds slower (which is probably something like five months in swimmer time) than Australian swimmer Kyle Chalmers, whose time took the winning spot.

Clearly, it wasn't Habte's best race.


To make matters worse, the internet seized on something that made Habte stand out amongst the line of Michael Phelps-esque physiques standing poolside.

Habte doesn't flaunt the sort of chiseled, six-pack builds people expect to see when swimming competitions come on.

Photo by Dominic Ebenbichler/Reuters.

As you might imagine, many of the reactions weren't too ... nice.

"How in the world did this Ethiopian swimmer ... qualify for the Olympics? Overweight & embarrassingly slow," one person wrote on Twitter. Another mocked him as "the greatest chubby swimmer in the Olympics."

It didn't take long for the nickname "Robel the Whale" to start cropping up across the web.

Heartbreakingly, the online bullying took a toll on Habte.

"It has been difficult," he admitted of the online hate to The Daily Mail, explaining he's taking a break from social media to tune it out.

"I don't know how I feel, but many things. Some of the things people have said or written are not nice. I am a nice person, I would not say these things about others."

Never mind the fact Habte was recently sidelined from his Olympic training for months due to a car accident injury โ€” no athlete (or anyone, for that matter) deserves to be ridiculed for the way they look.

Fortunately, many folks spotted the fat-shaming hate floating around the web. And they were not here for it.

Seemingly overnight, Habte's very own fanbase began blossoming, coming to his defense:

As far back as the people in the stands who watched him compete? They had his back, too.

Habte was invited to compete at the games through world aquatics sports group FINA as a means to include more athletes from under-represented countries, Reuters reported.

So, noย โ€”ย no one really expected him to be bringing home a medal. But his last place finish did raise some eyebrows about how he qualified in the first place.

Here's the thing, though: Despite some crying foul over the fact Habte's father is the head of Ethiopia's swimming federation, the athlete's finishing time is actually pretty incredible stacked up against the fastest swimmers to ever come out of his home country.

On the world stage, Habte may have seemed to move at a glacial pace, but in a country renowned for having some of the fastest athletes on land, Habte is a standout. ย 

Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images.

As Slate's Elliot Hannon argued, he deserved to be there.

At the end of the day, Habte is simply following his dreams.

"I wanted to do something different for my country, thatโ€™s why I chose swimming," he told Reuters. "Everybody, every day you wake up in Ethiopia, you run. Not swimming. But I didnโ€™t want to run, I wanted to be a swimmer."

"It didnโ€™t matter where I finished."

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

"I am so happy because it is my first competition in the Olympics," he said. "So thanks for God."

Don't listen to the haters, Robel Habte. Just keep swimming.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yetโ€ฆ it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games โ€” and virtual reality more generally โ€” are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us โ€” Veterans included โ€” have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

When the COVID-19 pandemic socially distanced the world and pushed off the 2020 Olympics, we knew the games weren't going to be the same. The fact that they're even happening this year is a miracle, but without spectators and the usual hustle and bustle surrounding the events, it definitely feels different.

But it's not just the games themselves that have changed. The coverage of the Olympics has changed as well, including the unexpected addition of un-expert, uncensored commentary from comedian Kevin Hart and rapper Snoop Dogg on NBC's Peacock.

In the topsy-turvy world we're currently living in, it's both a refreshing and hilarious addition to the Olympic lineup.

Just watch this clip of them narrating an equestrian event. (Language warning if you've got kiddos nearby. The first video is bleeped, but the others aren't.)

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