the 10 smallest delegations at Rio 2016

An astounding 11,400 athletes will travel from more than 200 countries to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. In all, 20 nations will be represented by three or fewer athletes — including Afghanistan, Belize, Gambia and South Sudan — nine will be represented by only two competitors, and one country will be represented a sole athlete.

Sprinter Etimoni Timuani will carry the flag at the opening ceremony for the South Pacific nation of Tuvalu — the smallest delegation destined for Rio de Janeiro.

If you are looking to cheer on an underdog at the Games, these 10 minnows might provide some inspiration.

Tuvalu

Who to watch: Etimoni Timuani, 24, a profesional footballer in the Tuvalu A-Division is competing at Rio 2016 in athletics in the men’s 100m sprint.

Capital: Funafuti Language: Tuvaluan, English and dialects Population: 10,600

Beach party: Tuvaluans eat coconut and dance to live music at celebrations known as fateles.

Make small talk wth Timuani: Comprised of nine islands, Tuvalu ranks as the fourth smallest country on the planet in terms of land mass, and was formerly known as the Ellice Islands before gaining independence from Great Britain in 1978. Tuvalu means “eight standing together,” according to Tuvalu Online, and the nation is also the source for .tv, a coveted internet domain.

Bhutan

Two to watch: These women will represent Bhutan at Rio 2016. Competing in Bhutan’s national sport, 26-year-old archer Karma (known by the one name only) won two bronze medals at the South Asia Games in February and will appear in the women’s individual event at Rio 2016. Sport shooter Lenchu Kunzang, 24, will compete in the women’s 10m air rifle.

Capital: Thimphu Language: Dzongka Population: 740,000

What’s on in Bhutan: Made from chillies and cheese (such as from yaks), ema datshi is a famous and celebrated Bhutanese dish often eaten with rice. Often held with the Bhutanese monarchy in attendance, food and drink are integral to archery competitions, where you can expect to see rivals standing near the target while joking, teasing and generally trying to distract the archer.

Chad

Two to watch: First time Chadian Olympians Bachir Mahamat, 19, and Bibiro Ali Taher, 28, both compete on the running track. Mahamat will run in the men’s 400m, and Taher will race in the women’s 5000m.

Capital: N’Djamena Language: Arabic and French Population: 13,600,000

Put a giraffe on it: The Ennedi Plateau in the northeast of the country is a massive sandstone bulwark with naturally occurring arches, pillars and towers, located in the middle of the Sahara. Canyons draw animals and people, including civilizations that made elaborate rock paintings.

Thea Lafond is one half of the Dominican team at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

An astounding 11,400 athletes will travel from more than 200 countries to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. In all, 20 nations will be represented by three or fewer athletes — including Afghanistan, Belize, Gambia and South Sudan — nine will be represented by only two competitors, and one country will be represented a sole athlete.

Sprinter Etimoni Timuani will carry the flag at the opening ceremony for the South Pacific nation of Tuvalu — the smallest delegation destined for Rio de Janeiro.

If you are looking to cheer on an underdog at the Games, these 10 minnows might provide some inspiration.

Dominica

Two to watch: The two Dominican athletes competing at Rio 2016 are competing in the triple jumper. These Olympic Games are the first for Cuban-born Yordanys Duranona, 28, and Thea LaFond, 22, who was a student at the University of Maryland in the US and is also an accomplished long and high jumper..

Capital: Roseau Language: Dominican Creole French, Island Carib and English Population: 72,300

Go with the flow: Known as the “nature island” the small Caribbean nation has 365 rivers, according to its tourism office, and is a popular destination for water sports, hiking and scuba diving.

Equatorial Guinea

Two to watch: At the age of 36, Reina-Flor Okori, is competing at her fourth and final Olympic Games in the women’s 100m hurdles as she intends to retire following Rio 2016. The three-time Olympic semi-finalist also holds French citizenship and is a three-time French champion in the discipline. Her team-mate is 27-year-old 800m racer Benjamin Enzema, who competed at London 2012.

Capital: Malabo Language: Spanish, French, Portuguese and dialects Population: 1,200,000

Lightning strikes: The small, west-central African country expands into the Atlantic Ocean on five islands, including Bioko where the capital is located and Corisco, which derives from the Portuguese word for lightning. The islands are celebrated for long, sliver-white beaches.

Liberia

Two to watch: Two sprinters, Mariam Kromah and Emmanuel Matadi, represent Liberia in athletics and both train at US universities. Running the women’s 400m, Kromah, 22, is a record-holder at the University of Southern Mississippi where she is a student. Matadi, 25, won two Division II NCAA national titles in the men’s 100m and 200m for Minnesota State University and will compete in the same events at Rio 2016.

Capital: Monrovia Language: English and indigenous languages Population: 4,500,000

Weah to go: Founded in the mid-19th century by free and free-born black slaves returning to Africa from the US, Liberia means “land of the free” in Latin. One of the west African country’s most celebrated athletes is George Weah, the only footballer from the continent to be named FIFA’s world player of the year and a repeat candidate for Liberian president.

Mauritania

Two to watch: The Mauritanian flag-bearer at London 2012, sprinter Jidou El Moctar ran a personal best in the 200m at those Games and will compete in the men’s 100m at Rio 2016. Twenty-four-year-old Houleye Ba will run the women’s 800m.

Capital: Nouakchott Language: Arabic, French, Pulaar, Soninke and others Population: 4,000,000

Dress to impress: A crossroads for generations, Mauritania borders the Western Sahara on the Atlantic Ocean and the temperature can top out at 50 degrees Celsius. A common, heat-beating garment in the Muslim nation is the bubu (derived from mbubb in the language Wolof and darra’a in Maghrebi Arabic),which is a full-length cloth fabric or robe draped over the head and shoulders. The female equivalent is known in places as the m’bubu and both can be embroidered and jewelled.

Nauru

Two to watch: Two Nauruans compete at the Olympic Games for the first time. Black belt Ovini Uera, 28, won bronze in judo at the 2016 Oceania world championships in Australia and will compete in the men’s 90kg competition at Rio 2016. Standing 1.55 metres (5ft 1in), weightlifter Elson Brechtefeld will compete in the men’s 56kg division.

Capital: Yaren Language: Nauran and English Population: 11,000

Specky Pacific: Considered a national sport, Australian rules football is a very popular sport in the island nation of Nauru, once the site of large-scale phosphorus mining operations in the Pacific Ocean.

Somalia

Two to watch: Reaching the Olympic Games is a monumental feat for Somalian runners Mohamed Mohamed and Maryan Muse. Mohamed, 20, will compete in the men’s 5000m, and 19-year-old Muse will race in the women’s 400m event.

Capital: Mogadishu Language: Somali and Arabic Population: 10,800,000

Language of love: Located on the Horn of Africa, Somalia has a history of commerce and trade, especially on the sea. One of Somalia’s most famous exports is singer-songwriter Aar Manta who incorporates into his music the tradition of qaraami, love songs that feature a stringed oud.

Swaziland

Two to watch: Both Swazi athletes competing at Rio 2016 are sprinters. Sibusiso Matsenjwa, 28, competes in the men’s 200m event and 23-year-old Phumlile Ndzinisa will race in the women’s 100m.

Capitals: Lobamba and Mbabane Languages: Swazi and English Population: 1,119,000

For the birds: The Kingdom of Swaziland has 17 nature reserves and protected areas that are home to the `Big Five´ as well as reptiles and hundreds of birds, impressive by any standard and especially so for a small, landlocked country.

Source: Rio2016

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