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At Olympics, Peruvian Skier Celebrates Last Place

Image: OLY-2014-NORDIC-MEN

Peru's Roberto Carcelen holds up his national flag as he reaches the finish line in the Men's Cross-Country Skiing 15km Classic at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 14, 2014 in Rosa Khutor near Sochi. KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP - Getty Images

Peru's Roberto Carcelen holds up his national flag as he finishes last in the Men's Cross-Country Skiing 15km Classic during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 14, 2014 in Rosa Khutor near Sochi. KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP - Getty Images

Cross-country Olympian Roberto Carcelen skied over to the fans beside the course, grabbed a Peruvian flag and waved it at the crowd as he came down the final straight toward the finish line.

But Carcelen was celebrating finishing in last place.

The 43-year-old was more than 10 minutes slower than any other competitor in the men's 15-kilometer classical race at the Sochi Games on Friday, finishing dead last in 87th place.

That didn't stop him from giving Peru its moment in the spotlight.

Carcelen also carried Peru's flag at the opening ceremony, having become the first athlete from the country to compete at the Winter Games in Vancouver. There, he was second to last, but Friday's race may still have been a bigger achievement. He said he injured his ribs shortly before the Olympics, and had to deal with the pain as well as the tough conditions in the soft and wet snow.

"It was a very difficult race for me," Carcelen said. "I was in a lot of pain on my right ribs. ... Hopefully I'll inspire people in Peru."

Carcelen doesn't plan on being back at the 2018 Olympics. This was his swan song on the international stage, and he made sure it was a memorable one.

"I'm retiring now," he said. "I want to dedicate myself to a cross-country development project and to work with kids to get them to the Olympics. I think I'll be more useful doing this."

-Reporting by the Associated Press