Lopez Lomong: Can Lost Boy of Sudan Break USA's Long 5,000M Drought in Olympics?
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The 27-year-old Sudan native's story has been told countless times.
At the age of six he was taken from his parents by soldiers to a camp where he witnessed dozens of boys his age die in horrendous conditions. Three weeks after being kidnapped he escaped with the help of three older boys, running for three days until they were found by a Kenyan border patrol.
Suffice it to say, running has remained a part of his life ever since.
In 2000 Lomong was able to watch the Sydney Games, where he saw Michael Johnson claim his second 400-meter gold. Lomong had his goal.
A year later Lomong would end up being relocated to New York, where he attended high school and was able to show off his running talents.
Lomong trained through high school and in college at Northern Arizona before getting his first shot in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He made it to the semifinal heats of the 1,500 meters.
But Lomong's story as one of the Lost Boy's earned him one of the highest honors at those games: flag bearer for the U.S. in the opening ceremonies, as voted on by all of Team USA. He was made a citizen of the country the year before.
Being simply a flag bearer wasn't exactly what Lomong had in mind when he envisioned himself competing in the Olympics, however. He was searching for a finals appearance, and even more so for a medal to bring home to his adoptive country.
Lomong joins fellow American's Bernard Lagat (13:15.45) and Galen Rupp (13.17.56) in the finals, where hopefully they will walk away with at least one medal.
Rupp and Lagat both have personal bests under 13 minutes in this event. It's quite possible that one of them could find themselves on the podium.
Lomong, however, has a tougher task. His personal best is only 13:11.63, a far cry from the likes of England's Mo Farah (12:53.11) and others. Farah is looking for double gold after winning the 10,000 meters last weekend. He also won the 5,000 meters in the world championships last year.
Lomong will have to run the race of his career (he's already had a more important run in his life) if he wants to head back to the U.S. with his first medal.
Stranger things have happened in Olympic history but Team USA's odds are in better hands with Rupp and Lagat.
Just don't be surprised if the Lost Boy doesn't shy away from the pressure and steals a medal.
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