Yesterday, Guor Marial was a gifted athlete. Today, Marial is an Olympian with less than a week to prepare for his just confirmed trip to London.
The South-Sudanese refugee qualified for the Olympics last October after meeting the Olympic "A" standard with a run of 2 hours, 14 minutes and 32 seconds at the 2011 Twin Cities Marathon. All that was missing after that display of talent was a country to represent in the Olympics.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) requires athletes to be full citizens of the countries they represent. Though Marial has lived in the U.S. for 11 years, he has yet to gain full citizenship and his status as a permanent resident isn't enough to allow him to wear red, white and blue at the games.
"Technically, I was supposed to be a citizen last June, because I did everything, I did my citizen test, I did my interview, I did my fingerprints, and everything was all set. All I needed to do was to go to their office and get my passport and do the ceremony. That was in June 2011, but there has been a security background check...and that's what took everything longer," Marial said this week in an interview with Runner's World.