Sometimes it's hard to cut through the Olympic hype, the television coverage with swelling music and stirring stories, to find what games organizers like to call a true Olympic moment — one that embodies hardship and triumph and humanity, all through the prism of sport. In Beijing, runner Lopez Lomong is having one of those moments.
The 23-year-old native of Sudan, now a U.S. citizen, was chosen by his teammates to carry the American flag in the opening ceremony. On Friday, he struggled to describe what the moment means: "I don't even have a word for it. I'm just so happy — very happy."
Here's why: Seventeen years ago, when he was 6, Lomong was kidnapped by rebels looking for child soldiers to fight in Sudan's civil war. He later escaped and fled to Kenya where, in 2000, two critical events propelled him to a startling new life.
Now he'll compete in China, a country that supports the Sudanese government, which is blamed for the civil war that uprooted Lomong and thousands of other so-called "Lost Boys of Sudan."
At a news conference Friday, Lomong, a member of the athlete's activist group called Team Darfur, avoided criticizing the host country. He chose instead to tell his story.