Thursday, August 2, 2012

Athlete with no 'country' bidding for Olympic gold

Guor Marial, who is an Olympic marathon athlete with no country, no sponsor and not even a coach, would be bidding for gold at the London Olympics, after spending most of his childhood being chased through savage battles in his native South Sudan.

Marial's story would be inspiration for any athlete, as his only training regime in the past has been running through the desert with hardly any water or shelter.

Marial is a tough survivor of a 20-year civil war that left two million dead, including eight of his 10 brothers and sisters. He ran from Sudanese soldiers who attacked and burnt his village, an army officer who kept him as a slave and Arab nomads.

Now, Guor will line up in the London 2012 marathon on Sunday, representing no national team because South Sudan, the world's newest country which won independence in July last year, has no Olympic committee.

Marial has no coach, sponsors or training facilities and just one well-worn pair of running shoes, and works all night to earn a living in Flagstaff, Arizona, and trains by day.

But remarkably Guor has secured a place alongside the world's greatest long-distance runners on merit, and the U.S., British and Olympic authorities have gone out of their way to help him.

"I used to hate running. I was running back home to save my life," The Daily Mirror quoted Marial, as saying.

Marial couldn't run for the U.S., as the country doesn't allow refugees to represent them, and the Sudanese government invited him to join Sudan's team, but Marial refused.

After a second quick marathon time, a lawyer took up his case, lobbying influential people to get Guor a place at the Olympics. Just 12 days ago, the International Olympic Committee agreed that he could run as an independent athlete under the Olympic flag.

No comments:

Post a Comment