South Sudan runner says fight for life led him to Games
LONDON (Reuters) - Marathon runner Guor Marial fled Sudan fearing for his life with the central African nation torn apart by civil war but he said that fight for survival gave him the strength to become an Olympic competitor
Marial’s extraordinary journey from war-torn Sudan 14 years ago to the 2012 Games culminates on Sunday when he competes as a stateless, refugee in the 26.2 mile marathon.
As he prepares for the race, his family, who he has not seen since 1993, are walking 30 miles from their village with no electricity or telephone to the town of Panrieng in South Sudan to watch the event on television.
Marial, 28, said he is running for them and to raise awareness about refugees and his fledgling nation of South Sudan, the world’s newest country that gained independence in July last year after a peace deal struck with Sudan in 2005.
South Sudan has not yet established a national Olympic Committee so cannot send a team to the London Games but Marial is competing as an independent athlete under the Olympic flag.
Olympic chiefs had suggested Marial run at the London Games for Sudan but he refused, saying it would be a betrayal of his country, his family and all those who died in the war.
A week before the London Games, the International Olympic Committee agreed to let him run as an independent athlete under the Olympic flag.
Marial said he hoped his participation at London would inspire young people in South Sudan.
“I hope the young generation in South Sudan will see me and dream high for the years to come, work hard and say we can also get a chance in the Olympic Games,” he said.