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Ron Judd's Olympics Insider

Ron Judd, an Olympics junkie and Seattle Times columnist who has covered Olympic sports since 1997, will use this space to serve up news and opinion on the Summer and Winter Games -- also inviting you to chime in on Planet Earth's biggest get-together.

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August 6, 2008 11:18 AM

U.S. athlete's flag-bearer choice is one for history

Posted by Ron Judd

Perhaps the USOC (see post below) could take a lesson in courage from its own athletes.

Wednesday night in Beijing -- just after word spread of Olympic gold medalist Joey Cheek's banishment from China, presumably because he dares speak of China's reputed role in the heart-rending humanitarian crisis in Sudan -- U.S. team captains met to elect the flag bearer for the opening ceremony.


USOC

LOPEZ LOMONG

Their choice to carry the stars and stripes? Lopez Lomong, middle distance runner -- and a former Sudanese refugee.

Lomong, informed of the decision, sounded thrilled and humbled.

"This is the most exciting day ever in my life," said Lomong, who will run the 1,500 meters alongside former Washington State Cougar Bernard Lagat, also an immigrant, from Kenya.

"The American flag means everything in my life -- everything that describes me, coming from another country and going through all of the stages that I have to become a U.S. citizen," Lomong said. "I don't even have the words to describe how happy I am."

Lomong, 23, of Tully, NY, was born in Sudan, fleeing the country at age 6, when he lost touch with his family. He lived in a Kenyan refugee camp for 10 years, becoming one of the "Lost Boys of Sudan." In 2000, he reportedly walked 5 miles to watch the Sydney Olympics on a black-and-white TV, and became inspired watching American sprinter Michael Johnson. He emigrated to the U.S. in 2001, became a track star at Northern Arizona University, and was granted citzenship last July.

"Seeing my fellow Americans coming behind me (in the Opening Ceremony) and supporting me will be a great honor -- the highest honor," Lomong said.

It's a richly deserved one. And a bold stroke by U.S. athletes to put the Sudan story back in the world's face -- probably in the only way they'll be allowed.

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Posted by MhariDubh

7:47 PM, Aug 06, 2008

see....already I'm tearing up...way to pick the right flag-bearer.

anyone going to watch/honestly translate the Chinese descriptions when he carries old glory?

Posted by arby

9:33 AM, Aug 07, 2008

"anyone going to watch/honestly translate the Chinese descriptions when he carries old glory?"

Sure. It will go like this: "and now, this word from our sponsor...

Posted by chaka chocolate

12:21 AM, Aug 16, 2008

you go lamong we are behind you , make us proud
as a congolese us resident i feel the same way too.

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www.olympic.org: The official International Olympic Committtee site, with news releases, a searchable Olympic medals database and other archival information.
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www.usolympicteam.com: U.S. Olympic Committee's athlete web site.
www.aroundtherings.com: Ed and Sheila Hula's Olympic News Service (subscription).
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www.sochi2014.com: Sochi, Russia's 2014 Winter Games site.
www.chicago2016.org: Candidate city Chicago's summer 2016 bid committee site.
Olympic swimmer Tara Kirk's highly entertaining WCSN blog
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