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'From across the globe, cheers for Marial'

Last modified: 7/28/2012 12:00:00 AM
The remarkable tale of Guor Marial, the Sudanese refugee turned Concord High graduate turned Olympic athlete, is hard to resist. Marial was granted permission last week to compete in the London Olympics. Here's a sampling of reaction from across the country - and beyond:

One of the most gripping stories of the London Games is about an athlete with no country.

Marathon runner Guor Marial, 28, was granted asylum in the United States as a teenager after a childhood that included being kidnapped at gunpoint at age 8, placed in a labor camp and seeing 28 members of his family die in Sudan's civil war. That he began running to cope with stress should come as no surprise.

Marial grew up in New Hampshire, went to Iowa State and now lives and trains in Arizona. He beat the Olympic qualifying time for his event, but he is not a U.S. citizen, and his year-old country, South Sudan, does not yet have standing to compete in the Games. Marial refused to represent Sudan, the country from which he fled.

So the International Olympic Committee ruled last week that he can participate as an independent athlete under the Olympic flag, something few people have done. . . . It is a fitting spot for a man who seems the very embodiment of the "Inspire a Generation" theme of these Games.

Oakland (Calif.) Tribune

 

(T)here is no question who is the biggest hero in this piece.

It is a runner who never gave up hope when members of his family died in the civil war, when he was a virtual child slave to a Sudanese soldier, when his jaw was broken by Sudanese forces, when he fled to Egypt and wound up in New Hampshire as a 16-year-old refugee. He won a race for his life.

PHILIP HERSH, Chicago Tribune

 

Dear Mr. Marial: Remember you have a country South Sudan. Regardless of what happen during Olympic sport events -- South Sudan will always be your home. This is just a icing on the cake, just do your very best.

ELIJAH B. ELKAN, Sudan Tribune 

From a person who used to hate running to become a marathoner and now an Olympian, Guar Marial's story is sure going to inspire every individual.

With an ambition in life, one can achieve even the impossible as the athlete has now become an Olympian when he did not have a country to represent and no passport.

This in itself will inspire everyone to think beyond their limits and aim for the sky.

One India News 

Show the world who South Sudanese are! You are our candle to light!

AKOLDE NHIAK JINUB, Sudan Tribune 

(Guor) Marial is not the first athlete to compete under the Olympic flag. At the 1992 winter Olympics in Albertville, France, six former Soviet Republics - Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Uzbekistan, and Armenia - competed as the "Unified Team." The Olympic flag was raised at medals ceremonies, and the Olympic hymn played when the team won one of its nine gold medals at those Games. In 2000, a runner and weightlifter from East Timor - like South Sudan a new nation without an Olympic committee - participated as independents.

And in London, Marial won't be the lone athlete hoping to hear the Olympic anthem on the medal stand. Three athletes from the former Netherlands Antilles, which dissolved in 2010 and no longer has an Olympic committee, will also march under the Olympic flag.

Still, Marial is unique. Since he holds no passports or citizenships, he's really the first Olympian without any true country, says the IOC. If Marial runs a strong marathon, here's a safe bet: the whole world will be looking to claim him.

TIME, magazine 

As he runs under that five-ringed flag - long a symbol of hope for peace in our world - Guor will run with the support of his family, his New Hampshire supporters, Americans everywhere, and his new country, South Sudan. I have a feeling that such support might even help him run faster.

We are so proud of Guor in New Hampshire and proud that in the United States, someone who has lived through such tragedy and adversity can start a new life and rise to incredible heights.

Scott Hamilton, an American Olympic gold medalist, once said: "Most other competitions are individual achievements, but the Olympics Games is something that belongs to everybody."

No matter the outcome in London, the story of Guor Marial and the adversity he has overcome belongs to everyone.

Win or lose, he will stand as a lasting inspiration for people around the globe and as a tribute to the greatness that is the United States of America.

The Olympic Games are about bringing people to-gether.

It's about international cooperation and fierce competition.

I am glad that Guor Marial will have a chance to run alongside the world's best athletes this summer in London. His story of perseverance in the face of adversity is inspirational and what the Olympics is all about. Guor has gone to great lengths, literally to achieve all that he has.

I look forward to welcoming him home as a true Olympic athlete.

U.S. Sen. JEANNE SHAHEEN in a speech on the Senate floor Thursday '


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