LONDON, 3 August 2012 (IRIN) – They call Guor Marial an athlete without a country, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Although Marial, who fled civil war as a child, is proud to be South Sudanese, when he lines up for the Olympic marathon on August 12 in London, he won’t be wearing the colours of the world’s newest nation.
The Republic of South Sudan – which gained independence in July 2011 – was unable to send its own team so he will instead be competing as one of four Independent Olympic Athletes. (The others are from the Netherlands Antilles, which ceased to exist as a country in 2010.)
There’s little doubt in Marial’s mind, however, which country he is really representing.
“We didn’t make it to the Olympics this year … but people will see that this is a South Sudanese running, that this is a symbol of our flag, even though our flag is not visible,” said Marial, who trains in Flagstaff, Arizona.
“The whole of South Sudan will be watching every step of that marathon and cheering me on.”
For more on this story, visit: IRIN Africa | SOUTH SUDAN: He once ran for his life; now he’s running for gold | South Sudan | Conflict | Refugees/IDPs.