March 19, 2013 (LONDON) - A campaign was launched on Tuesday to raise funds for a documentary about South Sudanese marathon runner Guor Marial, who competed at the 2012 London Olympics as an independent athlete as South Sudan is yet to form an Olympic committee.
Marial, who became a citizen of the United States in February, has not returned to South Sudan in over two decades since he was forced to flee the Sudanese civil war aged eight.
The fundraising campaign aims to raise $12,000 and $26,000 in order for Guor to travel with a film crew to visit his family in Unity State’s Parieng County and to be welcomed the government to the capital Juba.
The film’s director, Bill Gallagher, told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday the "fundraising campaign will give the film a kick and if we meet our goal it will literally get Guor on a plane back to his hometown in South Sudan for the first time in 20 years."
Marial ran away from a Sudanese army labour camp during the civil war and vowed never to run again because of the traumatic memories. However, years later, after he claimed asylum in the United States, he discovered he had talent for running long distances.
After qualifying for the Olympics in his first ever marathon the next challenge was to get to London 2012. After turning down an offer to represent Sudan and with South Sudan yet to establish an Olympic Committee Marial - after last-minute lobbying and a flurry of international media coverage - was granted special permission to compete as an independent athlete just weeks before the event.
Hearing of Marial’s inspirational story, Gallagher traveled to London to film his participation in the Games, with the intention of expanding the project into a full-length documentary.
"I am really excited about the film because I think it is a story that everyone can connect with" Gallagher said on Monday ahead of Tuesday’s fundraising launch.
"It is a story that makes you think ’well if Guor can go though what he did and be an elite athlete and make it to the Olympics, than really anything is possible’. He represents that hope in all of us that there is really no limits to our potential as humans. There was a point in his life when he didn’t have much hope of survival, he made it though and with hard work and some friends he became so amazingly successful, and he is only just beginning his journey toward success."
Guor Marial outside the Olympic Village in London the day after running in the London 2012 marathon. 13 August 2012 (Tom Law/ST)
In the marathon on the last day of the Games in August, Marial came 47th out of a field of over 100 of the world’s elite with a time of 2:19:32. Marial told Sudan Tribune the day after race that he would have liked to have run faster but was at the wrong stage of his training cycle. He is hoping to go better in the Boston marathon next month.
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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
19 March 15:52, by Panthou
Bravo Mr. Guor de Miarial! First South Sudanese in the world’s Marathon. Your sacrifice hard work is appreciated by this nation.
Guor in Nuer is an elephant and Marial not Mariaal! Differentiate your language from Nuer! Why are you guys followig our footsteps at every time? He is from Parieng County in Unity State mostly inhabited by Nuer.Dinka County in Bentiu is only Biemnhom.Secondly Dinka can not run,but only wrestling. The Nuer Empire
Nuer empire, that was a big joke from you dude, don’t scared your people please! As I am speaking to you here, Mr. Guor de Miarial was here with me before he left for Olympic in August, 2012. Another thing to teach you on is this, panrieng is not a county name. The official name of the county is Ruweng county, panrieng is the capital of the county. About the name---next page
Elephant in Nuer, spells as (guoor) not Guor! Guor in Dinka mean, if family lost two or three born kids in-a-row, then Guor is replacer of that gaps that God made to that family. But, Miarial in Nuer called thaakrial, so I know what point are you trying to make here! So, to me be a just nuer empire n ur good with that!
I don’t care whether Guor Marial is from any tribe in South Sudan. What I care about is that he is from South Sudan full stop. I do also care about his determination to make a career in a very competitive industry like sport (running). Thank you very much dear Guor Marial for your great achievement. You have made South Sudan known to the World without any govt position in South Sudan. Well done
I just wanna clarify something with all you people arguing here about where is Guor Marial from? Guor is from Dinka Panarou, me and him went to the same High School in Concord, NH, USA and when we completed High School he went to College in Iowa State and I went to Boston, MA, USA for my college. I would love to see this documentary go on and let everybody see how hard working Guor is.
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