At the World Handball Championship, as in many similar forums, there are enough colorful teams.
After increasing the number of participants to 32 teams, exotic teams from Cape Verde, Morocco and Uruguay made their way to the pool of finalists.
In this row, however, the squad from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) stands apart.
Indeed, from the very first minutes of the performance in Cairo, a star shone in its ranks, whose actions aroused genuine interest even in countries that are not interested in handball.
The reason for this is viral photos and videos of balls thrown into someone else's net by Gauthier Mvumbi, a 26-year-old lineman of the fourth French league club "Dreux".
Of course, there was no zest in the exact throws themselves, they were performed according to the rules - even though the DR Congo national team will make its debut at the World Championships, it has more or less order with the basic training of the players.
Another thing is who completed the attacks of the partners: an oversized guy of gigantic height and the same size.
The data on the official website of the tournament, however, initially described the Mwumbi as being faster, 176 cm at 89 kg.
However, after a surge of interest in linear, the injections were corrected (192/110), although, according to the Argentinean edition of La Nacion, the real weight of a handball player is 130 kg.
At the same time, the Congolese looked organic on the floor, acted wisely and even from time to time surprised with his technique - for example, hitting other people's goal from the welterweight position.
This frankly baffled his guardians.
So, in 11 minutes 17 seconds of the match against the Argentine national team, Mvumbi realized four shots out of four.
And then he demonstrated just as high efficiency in a duel against the Danes - the first miss of the line happened only in the second half of the confrontation with the plenipotentiary Olympic champions and world champions.
😮 Es Gauthier Mvumbi, pivote de la República Democrática Congo
🏋🏽♂️ Su complexión física no ha dejado indiferente a nadie: 1.92 metros y 110 kilos
🤾🏽♂️ Lleva el dorsal 15 y ha marcado 4 goles
❌ Pero perdieron ante Argentina : 🇦🇷 28-22 🇨🇩 # Egypt2021pic.twitter.com / 17steG2XGn
- El Partidazo de COPE (@partidazocope) January 15, 2021
Of course, the performances of such a non-standard handball player did not go unnoticed by the audience.
In addition, Mwumbi himself, through the social network Instagram, undertook to attract attention.
He asked to call himself "El Gigante", demonstrating that he did not experience any complexes due to his physique.
Then he thanked Shaquille O'Neill himself for his support and confessed his childhood idol in love.
At first, the mention of the star of the National Basketball Association was considered by many to be a "hype", but a member of the Overseas Hall of Fame actually recorded a message in which he noted the African.
It turned out that after the start of the tournament in Egypt, fans all over the planet began to call Mwumbi "handball Shaq" and tag the profile of the four-time NBA champion.
So O'Neill decided to figure out what was going on.
And when I found out, I expressed my respect to the guy.
View this post on Instagram
Publication from @gauthiermvumbi
“I just can't believe that my dream has come true.
My idol, my star, Shaquille, thanks for your message and support.
I don’t quite understand what’s going on, but I want to tell all of you: live your dream and fight for yourself, ”Mwumbi wrote in response, whose story is now actually more like the script of a Hollywood TV series.
Born in Chartres, France, the boy came from a Congolese family that had emigrated from Kinshasa.
He could go on the handball line when he turned 18, when, after playing at a local non-professional club and playing for neighboring amateurs from Vernuil, he received an invitation to see the Creteil club academy.
Mwumbi trained alongside the future stars of the French national team, Nedim Remili and Hugo Desca, and even made a favorable impression with his actions both in defense and in attack.
However, being overweight seriously interfered with the development of Gaultier - and the young man could not cope with this problem.
Even the influence of the older brother, to whom the coaches rushed for help, and the involvement of a specialist in proper nutrition, did not radically change the situation.
Mwumbi was mentally not ready to make sacrifices and restrictions for the sake of a career.
And the young man did not like the pain caused by the consequences of training.
According to the bride of handball player Khorda, at some point Gaultier began to feel too sorry for himself.
As a result, Mwumbi concentrated on his studies: he received his degree in electrician, after which he worked as an assistant teacher in high school and college.
Handball all this time was on the periphery of attention: for seven seasons in a row, Gaultier played in the “for the soul” mode as part of the same club from Vernuillet as in his early youth.
And in August 2020, he moved to Dreux in the lower division.
The motivation for the transfer lay not in the sports, but in the everyday plane.
The athlete decided to move closer to the places of his childhood.
And he stopped at a secluded corner of the Ayr-et-Loire department because it was located not far from his home.
From there, getting into any handball team that would go to the World Cup would have been almost impossible a few years ago.
But the expansion of the forum's participants, which provided Africa with six tickets to the final part at once, allowed Mwumbi to unexpectedly take off on the handball ladder to the very top of a career.
In part, this was helped by dual citizenship - the origin of the parents gave the right to join the DR Congo national team.
The patronage of the coach of the national team helped in part, since Francis Tuzolana is in charge of the same "Dreux", for which Gaultier stands.
However, the guy's playing for the national team is decent: for four years now, Gaultier has been receiving calls and responding to them - professional handball players in the country are scanty, and therefore they are being looked for far beyond Africa.
In 2020, the lineman helped the national team win the last of the possible trips to the World Cup from the region (however, it was not without luck - the host status of Egypt helped), and now he is experiencing, perhaps, the best moment of his sports life.
What will happen next?
Mwumbi does not undertake to guess.
Although he admits: it would be great for the attention received during the World Cup, to bring the guy to a professional contract in a serious club.
In the meantime, Gaultier plans to return to France and undergo training at a driving school.