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Guor Marial: A Rockier Road

Guor Marial: A Rockier Road
Guor Marial, in press conference during the London Olympic Games | IOC
19 Ene 2015 00:01

I find it overwhelming; such is the irony of life. Two years and a couple of months ago the 2012 London Olympics came to an end. Many medals and honours were awarded and the skies were continually alight with camera flashes.

Guor Marial was part of this grand event, he is an athlete born in Sudan the 15th of April 1984. Sudan is a region located in the northeast of Africa, and due to tensions and continuous wars and conflicts, Guor was captured and forced to do hard labour as a child. After several unexpected events in his life, 16-year-old Guor arrived in the United States, the ‘land of opportunity’.

In 2011, little after South Sudan claimed Independence from Sudan, Marial competed in the London Olympics. Sudan suggested he took part in their team, but he rejected the offer, declaring that ‘I cannot do that. I cannot represent the country that made me a refugee. If I ran under Sudan’s flag I would be letting my own people down, I would be dishonouring the more than two million people who died so we could be free’. In the end he was able to live his Olympic dream wearing the emblem of the International Olympic Committee. He crossed the marathon’s finish line in 47th place with a 2h19’32’’ mark.

Guor Marial regresando a su país | IOC

Guor Marial coming back to his country | IOC

From that moment onward he became an inspiration for those who came to know his story, the people who began helping him. His main goal became to return to South Sudan, 20 years after leaving it, and to fight so he could compete for his country; the youngest nation in the World, only born on the 9th of July 2011. However, he had not taken the IOC into consideration; they are the reason he cannot participate as a South Sudanese in the 2016 Rio Olympics; because South Sudan does not yet have an official Olympic Committee.

A couple of weeks ago, Guor Marial (now known as Guor Miading Maker) was awarded with an IOC grant which will enable him to prepare and train for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Sometimes sporting organisations run at their own pace, which is usually a slow and slugglish one. But occasionally they pick up some speed. It so happens that the South Sudan Athletics Federation has claimed the grant for itself in order to train all the athletes under their wing.

Guor has taken a stand, arguing that the grant has been given to him to help with his training, a grant he has earned with his struggles back in the past. His country’s federation, not at all slow or sluggish, has suspended Guor and has banned him from competing under their flag, warning him he will not run as a South Sudanese in Rio 2016.

I believe it is necessary to leave this article unfinished, trailing off with suspension marks; the end can only be determined by the facts; then can each make up their own mind.

A shame, but well…

*Translated by Anna Bailie

Fran Aguilera

Corredor, Diplomado en Educación Física, Monitor de Atletismo, Entrenador Nacional de Ciclismo. Mijas (Málaga)

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