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Last Updated: Monday, 18 August, 2003, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
Life in the slow lane
Exclusive by Mike Burnett

Trevor the tortoise
Trevor the Tortoise in Edmonton
He came, he took on the best and failed in spectacular style.

The story of Trevor Misipeka's incredibly slow sprint in Edmonton is still remembered by millions across the world as a classic comedy moment.

Taking part in the 100m heats, the burly 'sprinter' spluttered past the finish line in 14.28 seconds - one of the slowest ever times at the World Athletics Championships.

But two years later,
the 22-stone American Samoan looks back at the incident with a peculiar sense of pride.

"It was kind of embarrassing, but it was fun though," recalled Trevor, speaking from his father's sandwich shop in California.

"It was a great experience and I wouldn't trade it for anything."

In fact, Trevor the Tortoise, as he became known to the world's media, admits he quite enjoyed his mini-celebrity status.

As well as signing autographs and doing lengthy interviews with the press, he was even flown out to London to appear on BBC TV comedy show They Think It's All Over.

Maybe if I had trained for it, I'd have got in the high 12s
Trevor Misipeka
"It's amazing how much recognition I got just for doing that event," said Trevor, whose sister Lisa was the 1999 bronze medallist in the hammer event.

"Even now, people still notice me every once in a while."

Of course, if he had been allowed to compete in the shot put as he originally intended, it could have been a completely different story.

But when rule changes prevented him from doing so, the Tortoise's place in sporting history was confirmed.

"Samoa had already flown me out to Canada and they wanted me to do something. The 100m was the shortest event," he said.

"I found out I was doing it a day or two before, and I was contemplating if I was going to fake injury and pull up or finish the race."

Fortunately, he finished the race and a legend was born, but the 24-year-old still believes he could have done better.

"I was the biggest guy out there by 150 pounds at least and it wasn't my event, but my reaction time was better than more than half of the people there," he insisted.

Trevor the tortoise
Trevor reaches the pain barrier 10 metres in
"So maybe, if I was the same weight as them, I'd have been a contender. Maybe if I had trained for it, I'd have got a time in the high 12s."

Sadly, Trevor has not timed himself since that fateful day but has been busy training for something else entirely.

As well as finishing off a business degree at university, he is still desperately trying to break into the big time in American football.

"I'm planning to move up, hopefully, and make the NFL. I feel like I can play at that level, so it's just about getting noticed," he added.

So does Trevor plan to try to get noticed again at this year's World Championships? Alas, the answer is no.

"I think there's another guy going and he trains, so that's better."

Links to more World Athletics 2003 stories





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