Running for Joy

Reporting on London 2012 has included many inspiring personal stories of Olympic athletes. The one that has touched me most is the story of Lopez Lomong.   He was 6 years old when one Sunday morning in church in South Sudan, rebel soldiers tore him from his mother's arms and kidnapped him with many other children.

They were all taken to a child soldier training camp where conditions were dreadful. He was to small and weak to carry his AK47 assault rifle. Other younger boys in the same situation were simply killed. Lopez Lomong was saved by 3 older boys who looked after him. One night he escaped with them by crawling out of the camp at night. They ran for their lives. It was his very first race. According to a report by the BBC World Service he said,
""We ran three days and nights. We thought we were heading back to our village, but instead we ended up in Kenya."

He spent the next ten years in a refugee camp where he was often hungry and looked forward to Tuesdays when he might find food scraps as it was rubbish day. In the camp he ran and played football to forget his hunger. Then as part of a resettlement programme he was selected along with 3,500 'Lost Boys' of the Sudan to go to the United States and live with a foster family. There he began athletic training, qualified for the 2008 Bejing Olympics where he carried the US flag. Today at London 2012 he is running for the United States in the 5000 metre race. One of his comments on taking part in the Olympics is
"I used to run for my life, but now I'm running for joy and to inspire kids who might be refugees or in a really bad situation like I was."
He is a US citizen now but has been reunited with his family. He often visits South Sudan and has founded a charity 4 South Sudan to help provide clean water, sanitation and medicine. 

Here he is telling his own story





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