Running under the Olympic flag
“Guor Marial ran for his life to escape a Sudanese child labour camp. Now he will get to run at the Olympics.” (Read the full story at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/marathoner-without-country-passport-to-race-at-olympics-1.1152021)
One of the seven Principles of True Sport is Inclusion (www.truesport.ca/principles). This principle speaks to the importance of sharing sport with everyone – inviting everyone into sport to make it more meaningful for the whole community.
Guor Marial is a marathon runner posting times that put him in the top 10 to 20 in the world – but he has no country to run for. Guor was born in what is currently known as South Sudan. The newly formed country was part of Sudan when Guor was born and by the age of eight, he was working in a child labour camp. After escaping the camp and fleeing the war-torn country, he eventually ended up in the United States. He attended Iowa State University on an athletic scholarship and ran on the cross-country team.
At the Olympics, Guor refused to represent a country where 28 of his family members died during the violence and civil unrest. He wasn’t an American citizen and his newly formed homeland of South Sudan had no Olympic Committee to sponsor him.
Despite his ability, he was not going to be able to participate in the Olympics – that is until New Hampshire State Senator Jeanne Shaheen sent a letter to the International Olympic Committee suggesting that Guor compete under the Olympic flag.
And so, no longer excluded, Guor will compete in London under the Olympic flag. But in his heart, for South Sudan! By inviting Guor Marial into the Olympics, the Olympics have become more meaningful for the whole world.