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Guor Mading Maker (born 15 April 1984), also known as Guor Marial,[2] is a South Sudanese track and field athlete. He is a Dinka tribesman.

Guor Marial
Guor Marial (Independent Olympic Athlete) - London 2012 Mens Marathon.jpg
Guor Marial in the 2012 Summer Olympics Men's marathon in London
Personal information
Birth nameGuor Mading Maker
NationalitySouth Sudanese
Born (1984-04-15) 15 April 1984 (age 35)
Panrieng County, Unity, South Sudan
ResidenceFlagstaff, Arizona, USA
Alma materIowa State
Height1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Weight60 kg (132 lb)
Country South Sudan
Achievements and titles
Olympic finals47th (2012); 82nd (2016)
Personal best(s)2:12:55[1]
Updated on 1 November 2016.

Maker competed in the men's marathon at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Due to civil war that saw South Sudan split from Sudan, he has refused to compete under the flag of the latter, stating that, "It would be betraying my people". He was one of four athletes competing in the 2012 Summer Olympics under the Olympic flag rather than that of an individual country.[3]


Early lifeEdit

Maker left home at the age of seven to live with his uncle in northern Sudan.[2] In 1994, at the age of nine, he fled from a refugee camp during the Sudanese Civil War.[4] While 28 members of his family were killed during the conflict,[4] he was able to escape to Egypt, and then permanently to the United States.[5] He was granted refugee status by the United States when he was 16, and now lives and trains in Flagstaff, Arizona. Though his parents survived the civil war, at the time of the 2012 Olympics he had not seen them in 20 years.[6] However he returned to South Sudan in 2013 and was reunited with his parents.[2] Eight of his brothers and sisters were killed in the war.[7]

He began participating in track and field while attending high school in Concord, New Hampshire,[8] after being encouraged by his gym teacher[2] and also competed in college at Iowa State, where he was an All-American athlete.[6]

2012 Summer OlympicsEdit

Marial fulfilled the A-qualification standard for the marathon in October 2011, allowing him to participate in the Olympic marathon event at the 2012 Summer Olympics.[4] Marial's case was called "unique" by the IOC,[9] as prior to the games South Sudan had yet to form a National Olympic Committee and seek full recognition by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which would have allowed them to send a team and compete under the flag of South Sudan. He holds permanent resident status in the United States, but not citizenship.[7] According to his interview in Runner's World, He applied for naturalization to become a U.S. citizen in 2011 and had his naturalization interview, but his application remains pending: "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 fingerprint, and everything was all set. All I needed to do was 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."[10]

The National Olympic Committee of Sudan offered to allow Marial to compete as a member of the Sudanese team, however he rejected this offer, saying, "It's not right for me to do that. It's not right for me to represent the country I refuged from."[11] He went on to say, "If I ran for Sudan, I would be betraying my people. I would be dishonoring the two million people who died for our freedom."[7]

The IOC-executive board announced its decision on 20 July to allow Marial to participate as an Independent Olympic Athlete.[12]

Marial's travel documentation could not reach him in time, and so he could not march in the Opening Ceremony on 27 July.[6]

Marial finished 47th in the marathon, with a time of 2:19:32.[13] His personal best is 2:12:55.[1]

He competed at the 2012 Olympics using his adopted name of Marial, which was the surname of his uncle, however he has since reverted to his birth name.[2]

Military careerEdit

Maker became an Airman in the United States Air Force on 2 February 2018.[14]

Guor Marial
Maker receives an “Airman’s Coin” at the Coin Ceremony Feb. 1, 2018 outside the Pfingston Reception Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Air Force
Years of service2018 - present
Rank  Airman First Class


  1. ^ a b "South Sudan refugee to run marathon in Olympic colours". Sudan Tribune. July 22, 2012. Retrieved January 20, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e Reynolds, Tom; Sliney, Noel; Wright, Katie (4 August 2015). "One year to Rio 2016: Five global athletes' Olympic odysseys". Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  3. ^ "London 2012 Olympics: South Sudan's Guor Marial allowed to compete under Olympic flag in London". The Telegraph. 21 July 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  4. ^ a b c "BBC Sport - Olympic marathon: Guor Marial, running for the world". BBC news. 2012-07-23. Retrieved 2012-08-12.
  5. ^ "Guor Marial: An Olympian without a country". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  6. ^ a b c "Olympian without a country won't march in opening ceremony". USA Today. 27 July 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  7. ^ a b c Kors, Joshua (23 July 2012). "Guor Marial: Marathon Runner Flees Sudan, Heads to London Olympics". Huffington Post. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Guor Marial is a marathoner without a country, running under the Olympic flag, Washington Post, August 10, 2012. Retrieved August 12, 2012
  10. ^ For South Sudan Runner, Country Comes Before Olympics, Runner's World, July 20, 2012. Accessed August 12, 2012
  11. ^ "For South Sudanese marathoner, Olympics would be the ultimate refuge". Chicago Tribune. 18 July 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  12. ^ "IOC Executive Board meets ahead of London Games". Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  13. ^ "Men's Marathon - Olympic Athletics, London 2012". London 2012. Archived from the original on January 28, 2013. Retrieved January 20, 2013.
  14. ^ "Former slave, two-time Olympian becomes an Airman". Joint Base San Antonio. Retrieved 2018-02-24.

External linksEdit