I Love the Olympics. So many stories come out of them, remarkable people, incredible performances, great stories. I know many people are not pleased with the venue this time around. I myself am not pleased at all. After a lot of thought though, I know the atheletes didn't have any choice about the venue and there is for many, just a short window of time for this experience. I can not imagine how the qualifiers for the 1980 Olympic team felt after working so hard for no opportunity to compete. I can not wait to see the spectacular track and field events!
Today I want to write a little about Lopez Lomong. Lomong is a fairly new citizen of the United States. He is one of the legendary Lost Boys of Sudan. These were boys who had essentially raised themselves in the refugee camps in Northern Kenya.
Lopez credits running for saving his life, as he was able to escape a camp for child soldiers through a hole in a fance and run to the relative safety of a Kenyan Refugee camp.
He then came to the US, where he is now known as the King of Flagstaff, running for Northern Arizona Univeristy, is competing in the 1500 agaist better know greats such as Bernard "Kipo" Lagat who actually competed for Kenya in the 2004 Olympics, but now is a US citizen, and Alan Webb .
Lomong comes from a world which I know, but only superficially. Many of you know I worked in South Sudan in 2004-5. I was there when the Peace Treaty was signed (Actually I was on R and R in kenya, but well, I was still in service, just resting). I've visited a variety of those refugee camps and know the conditions aren't really good, despite the best efforts of relief agencies. He, like most Lost Boys had to make big adjustments in coming to the US. Everything was new, electricity, elevators, McDonalds, supermarkets…. and running, I am sure was somewhat different. Because of my own work in Akuem, South Sudan, I feel a very strong connection to this remarkable young man who I will probably never meet. While I certainly had a taste of life in The Sudan, my life there was considerably easier and more secure than Lomong's. I served as a witness to the tragedies, while Lomong experienced them personally.
Lomong says now that he is running for both the United States and for the Sudanese who never had a chance to run.
I'm cheering him on in the trials, and hoping he gets a chance to represent the many who have experienced the violence, hunger and poverty due to the war in Sudan.
Go Lomong Go!