How does it feel to struggle so hard to represent a country that denies you the means to do make it proud?
That is the question only one athlete, Guor Miading Miaker can answer.
Although running is not particularly lucrative career, Guor Marial has he is popularly known, continues to pursue his dreams which he says partially gives him the opportunity to raise awareness about causes that are important to him.
Guor who is both a U.S citizen by naturalization, left America for South Sudan in 2013 -in his first visit home in 20 years. He met his mom, and started his quest to represent South Sudan at any marathon worldwide.
A year before this, Guor Marial rejected running under the Sudanese flag in the London Marathon in 2012, saying it would betray the millions Junubin who have been killed by successive Sudanese regime.
He instead ran as an independent athlete– a runner without a country.
Guor is well known for that, but also for crowdfunding. He has been able to participate in various athletic games through funds from well-wishers. Despite returning home in 2013, greed and lack of funding in the South Sudan Athletic Federation forced Guor to continue sourcing funds on his own.
That year, he was involved in some squabbles with the federation when he attempted to run for South Sudan in the United States. The federation had disowned him for not involving them in his fundraising initiatives. But that didn’t break Guor’s determination to represent Junup Thudan as a runner.
Next year, Guor Marial is hoping to participate in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Brazil through funds from well-wishers.
His determination and commitment to fly South Sudan’s flag on the track forced him into living a rather pathetic life in a remote part of Kenyan highlands. He has been training there since December, 2014.
For 11 months, Guor Marial has been camping on high altitude at Iten Athletic training camp in Rift Valley where he is receiving training from professional Kenyan coaches.
With friends world-wide, Guor has been able to enlist 14 other South Sudanese athletes in Kenya, South Sudan, United Kingdom, United States and Australia to increase South Sudan’s chances for qualifying for the 2016 Olympics. He says the Rio de Janeiro Olympics will be to uplift the image of South Sudan.
“It’s my great hope to honor them (South Sudanese) at the 2016 Olympics under the South Sudanese flag, and bring great joy to the people of South Sudan, friends around the world, and supporters who helped me to reach to this level,” said Guor.
Now see the life Guor has been living for the past 11 months…..