South Sudanese Olympic runner is man without a country
Marial, who has not seen his family since he fled, says they are making the 50-kilometer hike from their village, which does not have electricity, to the town of Panrieng to watch him on television run the Olympic marathon.
The International Olympic Committee had wanted Marial to run under the Sudanese flag, but he refused. He said it would have been a betrayal of his country, his family and all those who died in the war. He lost 28 family members in the violence of the civil war.
He learned just one week before the start of the London Games that he would be allowed to compete unaffiliated with any nation.
He is not the only refugee from South Sudan at the Olympics. Chicago Bulls player Luol Deng, who grew up in London after fleeing Africa, is on Britain’s basketball team, and Lopez Lomong, who has U.S. citizenship, is a 5,000 meter runner.
Marial says he has no expectations about Sunday’s race, calling it “unpredictable.”
His best time for running the 42-kilometer course is 2 hours, 12 minutes and 55 seconds. The world record is 2 hours, 3 minutes and 38 seconds.
Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.