A version of this post first appeared on Enough Said (my office's blog). I have ever so slightly Eat Run Read-ified it.
|South Sudanese runner Guor Marial.|
My work focuses on ending and preventing mass atrocities -- specifically the ones in Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and areas affected by the Lord's Resistance Army. Though that line of work may sound bleak (and definitely can be), it's not all doom and gloom. Inspiring news can come out of the conflict areas we follow, especially in an Olympic year.
The Olympic Truce, originally instituted in the 9th century Greek Olympic Games, and adopted by the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, and United Nations in 1992 aims to:
- Mobilize youth for the promotion of the Olympic ideals;
- Use sport to establish contacts between communities in conflict; and
- Offer humanitarian support in countries at war; and more generally: to create a window of opportunities for dialogue and reconciliation.
Olympic Athletes of South SudanSouth Sudan became the world’s newest country in July 2011. Like all members of the United Nations, it was automatically accepted into the IOC, but South Sudan was unable to organize its own National Olympic Committee, or NOC, in time for London 2012, and therefore cannot send athletes to the games.
Because of this delay, the IOC granted South Sudanese athletes permission to compete under the flag of their former country, Sudan. However, for South Sudanese marathoner Guor Marial, running for the government that is responsible for the deaths of 28 of his family members was an unacceptable option. Marial was granted permission by the IOC to run as an independent athlete under the Olympic flag.
|Lopez Lomong, who competes for the U.S.|
came to the U.S. in 2001 when he was 16 years old. He is now an American citizen and competes for the United States. Lomong carried the flag for the U.S. Olympic team in the opening ceremonies in Beijing and will compete in the 5,000-meter race on August 8.
Olympic Athletes of SudanSudan is fielding a team of six athletes at these games: three 800-meter runners, one 400-meter runner, and two 50-meter freestyle swimmers.
In track and field, Ismail Ahmed Ismail ran in the first round of the 800-meters on Monday, August 6, but did not qualify for the semifinals. Ismail, who lives in Khartoum but is originally from the Fur tribe in Darfur, has an impressive Olympic history. He competed in Athens at the age of 19, and in Beijing in 2008 he won silver in the 800-meters, becoming the first Sudanese athlete to ever win a medal.
|Sudanese 800-meter runner Abubakar Kaki.|
Abubaker Kaki Khamis is another Sudanese 800-meter Olympic veteran. He did not make it to the finals in Beijing but is a two-time World Indoor 800-meter champion and won gold at the 2007 All-Africa Games. In London this year he won his 800-meter heat in Round 1 which advanced him to the semifinals on August 7. In the semifinals he again won his heat, running 1:44.51, and will compete in the finals on August 9.
Rabah Yousif is Sudan’s only 400-meter runner competing in the London Olympics. He comes from a family of Sudanese athletes – his father was a 100- and 200-meter national champion, and two of his uncles were runners and the other a shot-putter. In 2002 while at a training camp in the U.K, Yousif asked for and was granted asylum for 2 ½ years while he was still a minor. Despite his successes in U.K. running, Yousif’s application to gain refugee status was rejected after a 5-year battle, and he returned to Sudan in 2008.
He competed for Sudan in Beijing in 2008, and in London this year he made it to the 400-meter semifinals on August 5 but did not advance to the finals.
Sudan has a one-woman female track and field team: Amina Bakhit will compete in the 800- meters on Wednesday, August 8.
Sudan also has two swimmers, who competed in the 50-meter freestyle in the London Games: one man, Mohamed Elkhedr, who placed 50th out of 58 in the heats, and one woman, 18-year-old Mhasin Fadlalla, who placed 70th out of 73 competitors in the first round of heats last week.