Track and Field has started at the Olympics! I am of course very excited about Lopez Lomong.
Lomong of course is already a winner in everyone's book, having survived horrific life threatening situations in Sudan and Kenya. Hi sstory is so enthralling and inspiring, he was hands down chosen to be the US flag bearer at the opening ceremony, which was a great honor. I'm pleased that he saw it that way and took it quite seriously, saying “This is the most exciting day ever in my life,” Lomong said. “It’s a great honor for me that my teammates chose to vote for me. I’m here as an ambassador of my country, and I will do everything I can to represent my country well.” and it has been noted by journalist Jennifer Engel that :
"Many Team USA members have been under pressure to use their considerable platform to speak out against a narrow view of human rights in China and China's involvement in Sudan. The choice of Lomong as the flag bearer is quite genius. He is the reminder. "
Lomong commented further "The American flag means everything in my life, everything that describes me, coming from another country and going through all of the stages that I have to become a U.S. citizen," Lomong said. "This is another amazing step for me in celebrating being an American."
I think it's wonderful that Lomong was put forth as the flag bearer. He is a powerful image of what America can be for people, and its needed right now as we are embroiled in so many conflicts and disasters at home and abroad. It's important not to forget that this can still be a land of opportunity and hope.
I think, however, he is interested in being a medal winner at the Olympics, and being known for his skill and talent, rather than just his history.
Lomong is also wonderfully concious and aware of his unique position at the Beijing games. Not only is he running for the USA and representing the country in an admirable way, he is also a strong reminder of the problems faced in Sudan. Many many atheletes are aware of Darfur, and have joined Team Darfur founded by Joey Cheek in an attempt to raise awareness and put pressure on the Sudanese Goverment. China of course is a strong supporter of Sudan, and has revoked several Team Darfur members visas. Thus, Lomongs prescence is even more important as he is on such an international stage. As he says,
" When we were in Africa, we didn't know what was there for us as kids–we just ran. God was planning all of this stuff for me, and I didn't know. Now I'm using running to get the word out about how horrible things were back in Sudan during the war. Sometimes these things are not on CNN, so if I put out the word, I hope people can get the information. Right now, similar terrible things are going on in Darfur; people are running out of Darfur, and I put myself in their shoes.
Lomong, along with fellow naturalized American Lagat (of kenya) did not have outstanding heats. Both of them became boxed in at the back or ear back of the pack and had to use quite a bit of energy to essentially go around the crowd. Both Lagat and Lomong said they felt the semis were sort of a warm up, but i am concerned because Lomong did exactly the same thing in the trials. He;s so strong and capable, he just has to not get boxed in.
You can send a message of support to Lomong and other Athletes of Team Darfur!!! Just click here.
No Matter what Happens Lomong to me remains the coolest person at the Olympics, and the one I;d most like to meet.
You can see Lomong running again on Sunday!