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Dazzle

Olympics: Runner without a country finishes marathon (South Sudan athlete)

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I thoroughly respect this athlete. It really doesn't matter if he finishes first or last. He is from South Sudan which has broken off from the country of Sudan. He lives in the US but is still not a citizen yet.

http://sports.ca.msn.com/olympics/london/news/runner-without-a-country-finishes-marathon

I think this is an example of true Olympic spirit.

LONDON - While his competitors ran under the brightly colored flags of their countries, marathoner Guor Marial competed in a black and grey uniform, the letters "I.O.A." printed across his chest.

Independent Olympic Athlete.

When he crossed the finish line, he touched those three letters, then pounded the left side of his chest with his fist in a subtle but significant gesture to describe his Olympic experience.

The south Sudan refugee competed Sunday under the banner of the International Olympic Committee. A runner without a country, he didn't want to compete for Sudan and couldn't compete for the United States, where he lives and trains but is not a citizen. He finished 47th, 11:31 minutes behind the winning time.

The time was of little consequence.

"Finishing the marathon is more important than anything like that," he said. "This is special for the people who support me, in the United States and the whole world and my people in south Sudan. It was important for me to finish, no matter what."

Not having a flag "doesn't worry me a lot because coming here, technically, I feel like I was representing south Sudan even though I was not wearing it," he told The Associated Press immediately after the marathon. "It is important to bring the name of south Sudan here and raise awareness of the issue going on in south Sudan."

Marial, 28, was born in what is now the newly independent country of South Sudan. He fled a long time before the south broke away from Sudan last year and doesn't have any South Sudanese documents. Although he is now a permanent resident in the U.S. — he trains in Flagstaff, Ariz., — he's not a citizen there, either.

He was offered the chance to represent Sudan at the games but declined.

With no passport, no country and seemingly no hope, Marial met fellow runner Brad Poore at a race in Minneapolis in October and 10 months later — with plenty of help from his new friend — he got to compete on the final day of the London Olympics.

Poore had phoned everyone he could think of from charities to senators, embassies and border agencies so that Marial would be able to compete.

Marial had run only two marathons previously, but finished both in Olympic qualifying times. His second was just two months ago in San Diego, leaving him very little time to taper for the biggest race of his life.

"It was a heavy responsibility on my shoulders, but it was great," he said. "I feel blessed to be able to do this. Two marathons back-to-back in two months, was not ideal. The whole thing is to do this to honour our people. Support the refugees and the people of South Sudan."

Thousands of people lined the marathon route, which wound past many of London's famous landmarks and finished in the Mall, within sight of Buckingham Palace. He saw people waving south Sudan flags, and yelling encouragement to him in his native tongue. And he heard plenty of other support from the fans who have followed his story.

For that, he was grateful to the IOC for helping get to London.

"The IOC is great. It's special. I can't thank them enough for giving me this opportunity," he said. "At the same time, It's about the people. In my heart here, I'm carrying those people in my heart."

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That‘s an awesome story.

Good for the IOC to let him compete.

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Although I appreciate sport and athleticism, I'm not a fan of the Olympics...and it's because of the rampant patriotism. So I really enjoyed this story.

The nations take credit for individual and team performances. So much so that years after the fact the nations tout previous medal counts with little-to-no mention of who actually won those medals. There's a mall here in Calgary with giant medals hanging from the ceiling representative of past medals won by "Canada" - they're absolutely huge, but don't bother having the athlete's names on them.

But I'm not a fan of patriotism in the least. Many people say it's a unifying force for good, but I would say it's the exact opposite.

“Patriotism is a pernicious, psychopathic form of idiocy”

- George Bernard Shaw

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Although I appreciate sport and athleticism, I'm not a fan of the Olympics...and it's because of the rampant patriotism. So I really enjoyed this story.

The nations take credit for individual and team performances. So much so that years after the fact the nations tout previous medal counts with little-to-no mention of who actually won those medals. There's a mall here in Calgary with giant medals hanging from the ceiling representative of past medals won by "Canada" - they're absolutely huge, but don't bother having the athlete's names on them.

But I'm not a fan of patriotism in the least. Many people say it's a unifying force for good, but I would say it's the exact opposite.

“Patriotism is a pernicious, psychopathic form of idiocy”

- George Bernard Shaw

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Although I appreciate sport and athleticism, I'm not a fan of the Olympics...and it's because of the rampant patriotism. So I really enjoyed this story.

The nations take credit for individual and team performances. So much so that years after the fact the nations tout previous medal counts with little-to-no mention of who actually won those medals. There's a mall here in Calgary with giant medals hanging from the ceiling representative of past medals won by "Canada" - they're absolutely huge, but don't bother having the athlete's names on them.

But I'm not a fan of patriotism in the least. Many people say it's a unifying force for good, but I would say it's the exact opposite.

"Patriotism is a pernicious, psychopathic form of idiocy"

- George Bernard Shaw

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I don't considier international sporting events nationalism, even though the commentators try to put politics in it.

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So ur sayin that during the two weeks when the winter games were in Vancouver you just didn't bother coming downtown to enjoy being around robson square and all that? Did you find the random outbreaks of Oh Canada annoying? Heck, were you upset when Crosby scored in overtime to win gold, or when Alex Bilodeau won our first gold on home soil?

C'mon, lighten up. The olympics last two weeks every two years and you dont have to be a phychopath to cheer for your country. It really isn't that hard.

As for the OP, great story! Thanks for posting!

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"Patriot: the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about." - Mark Twain

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Great Story! Glad he could compete!

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I get what you're saying and you're entitled to your opinion, but that quote is just plain incorrect

I love Canada and I consider myself patriotic. I wasn't born here and I know what others are missing out on by not living in Canada. I'm f**king proud to be a Canadian and I think it's the best place in the world to live. When I scream "Oh Canada" I know exactly why I'm cheering and what this country stands for.

Screw Mark Twain. He was American, so the quote applies nicely to the majority of Americans.

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I get what you're saying and you're entitled to your opinion, but that quote is just plain incorrect

I love Canada and I consider myself patriotic. I wasn't born here and I know what others are missing out on by not living in Canada. I'm f**king proud to be a Canadian and I think it's the best place in the world to live. When I scream "Oh Canada" I know exactly why I'm cheering and what this country stands for.

Screw Mark Twain. He was American, so the quote applies nicely to the majority of Americans.

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So ur sayin that during the two weeks when the winter games were in Vancouver you just didn't bother coming downtown to enjoy being around robson square and all that? Did you find the random outbreaks of Oh Canada annoying? Heck, were you upset when Crosby scored in overtime to win gold, or when Alex Bilodeau won our first gold on home soil?

C'mon, lighten up. The olympics last two weeks every two years and you dont have to be a phychopath to cheer for your country. It really isn't that hard.

As for the OP, great story! Thanks for posting!

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