Togo's first medallist says time to visit Togo
BEIJING (Reuters) - Togo's first medallist at an Olympics, white water kayaker Benjamin Boukpeti, said it was finally time for him to visit the country he competes for.
He was born in France to a French mother while his father and two sisters are from Togo.
"Unfortunately, I've only ever been once to Togo, when I was very little, because my mother wanted to present me to my grandmother," Boukpeti said after earning a bronze in the singles kayak event on Tuesday.
"But now I think I have a very good reason to go."
Boukpeti, ranked 56th in the world, stunned the field and bewildered spectators when he took the lead in the first of two final runs, then held on for bronze in his second run.
Boukpeti, 27, sought to compete for the West African nation when it became clear that he was too old to have a real shot of making the French team.
He has very few memories of his last visit to Togo.
He remembers thinking every black man he saw was his father, who had not been able to make the trip, because at home in France his father stood out.
"I also remember that my brother didn't want to leave the ball that he was playing with at my cousins ... but in the end, he had to leave it," said Boukpeti, who lives in Toulouse.
(editing by Alison Williams)
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