Runner begs for cash to fly S Sudan flag at Olympics

2014-11-21 14:11
Guor Mading Maker. (File: AFP)

Guor Mading Maker. (File: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Nairobi - South Sudan marathon runner Guor Mading Maker has been forced to resort to crowd-funding to raise his civil war-torn nation's flag for the first time at the Olympics.

Maker ran under the Olympic colours at the 2012 London Games because his country had only just won its freedom from Khartoum after decades of war.

But there is little chance of securing funding from South Sudan for the Rio Games in 2016 after war broke out again there last December. Since then tens of thousands have been killed and aid agencies say the country is on the brink of famine.

Maker is seeking $25 000 to achieve his dream, with the money enabling him to train in neighbouring Kenya's high-altitude Rift valley and bring some fellow South Sudanese athletes with him.

Financial assistance

"To achieve my goals I need to follow the right programme, in the right environment, and above all have financial assistance for the next two years," 30-year-old Maker said.

"A little donation can make big difference," he said in a message on the crowd-funding website "I believe with your kind support, I could help bring a long lasting unity to the people of South Sudan through sport."

Currently based in the United States, Maker came 47th in the London 2012 marathon as an independent Olympian - under the name Guor Marial - with a time of 2:19:32, and has a personal best of 2:12:55.

At the time of the London Games, South Sudan had not yet been accepted as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

"I returned from the Olympic Games with great experience and determination to train hard for the World Championship in 2015 and the 2016 Olympic Games," he said.

'Lost Boys'

"With enough funding, I can go to Kenya and focus on training until the Olympic Games. With more funding, I can bring along five to six South Sudanese runners to train with me."

Those who have donated so far include Meb Keflezighi, an Eritrean-born American and winner of the 2014 Boston marathon and Olympic silver marathon medallist in 2004.

Like thousands of others, Maker fled fighting during the 1983-2005 war that paved the way for South Sudan's independence, one of a generation dubbed the "Lost Boys". He was forced to flee his home village in 1993, and was granted residence in the United States in 2001.

Maker visited South Sudan for the first time since leaving last year, and - despite fearing he was an orphan - was reunited with his mother after two decades without contact.

Sporting stars who hail from South Sudan include the late Manute Bol, equal tallest ever player for the National Basketball Association (NBA) at 231cm, as well as Luol Deng, who plays for Miami Heat.

Fellow South Sudanese "Lost Boy" and middle distance runner Lopez Lomong, now a US citizen, was the flag bearer for the US Olympic team in 2008.

The Rio Olympics take place from 5-21 August, 2016.

Read more on:    south sudan  |  east africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.