What a class act – the United States announced today that Lopez Lomong, a former child prisoner from war-torn Sudan, will lead the their team into the National Stadium in Beijing for the start of the 2008 Olympics.
Lomong is now an American citizen and was chosen to be the flag bearer after a vote by his fellow team members. His journey is inspiring to say the least. Born in Southern Sudan; kidnapped and separated from his parents at age 6 during a civil war; Lopez escaped and made it to a refugee camp in Kenya, where he spent more than a decade before coming to the United States in 2001 and qualifying to represent his adopted country in the Olympics for the 1,500-meter race.
China has long been criticized for not intervening in Africa especially in Sudan’s Darfur region where they have business interests. China has a long standing policy of “non-interference”, but is quickly learning that as it grows in strength, it has a moral responsibility to influence positive change globally.
Hopefully Lomong’s long journey will act as an inspiration to millions of Chinese citizens and help them recognize that the hopes and aspirations of Darfuri’s are no different that their very own – bringing us closer to the “One World, One Dream” ideal of the Olympics.
Here is to a wonderful Beijing Olympics. Good luck to the host nation and to all the inspirational athletes partipating in China.