Just landing from my flight home from London. Will post more details later but here is the link.
August 06, 2012
Sudan-born Lopez Lomong will return for his second Olympics with Team USA. He is one of the “Lost Boys” of Sudan who was living in a refugee camp in Kenya. NBC tells his story of survival:
When Lomong was 6 years old, the second son in a line of six children born to a farmer in the village of Boya, Sudan was taken from his parents at gunpoint by the Janjaweed government militia while attending Catholic Mass. He was to be trained as a soldier, or starve to death. During three weeks of imprisonment, he ate once a day, a mixture of sorghum and sand.
Run for the border Three older boys, all around age 14, had discovered a hole in the fence surrounding the prison camp and decided to attempt and escape and to bring Lomong with them. "They told me, 'You're going home', even though they knew we weren't," Lomong said. "They said that so I would join them. They were trying to save my life." For three days Lomong and his friends ran toward safety in Kenya. When they reached the Kenyan border, the three teens were too old to be accepted into a refugee camp, were arrested and returned to Sudanese officials. Only Lomong was granted refuge. "Anything I do in life, I put those guys in front," says Lomong, who cannot recall their names and has no idea if they survived. "They were more than brothers to me."
Schooling sets him free Lomong spent 10 years living in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in northern Kenya, where he learned to write by drawing letters in the sand with his finger. But that rudimentary education was enough to help earn him liberation. "They told us that the U.S.A. wants to give 3,500 'Lost Boys' homes," Lomong said. "They said if you want to come to America, write an essay explaining why." For two nights Lomong and many of his friends worked in silence. "I remember it felt like taking a test," he said. "I just sat down, the whole of my mind emptied onto the paper. I wrote some of it in Swahili, I wasn't even aware of it." One month later, his essay was chosen by the Joint Volunteer Agency, and he was on his way to America.
He was fortunate enough to be adopted by Robert and Barbara Rogers, an American family in upstate New York and became a US citizen in 2007. His adjustment to life in America was profound – he had to learn to flush a toilet, turn on light switches and many other tasks we take for granted. His inspiring story led him to be selected in 2008 to be the flag bearer for Team USA.
Lomong competed in the 1500 meter run in Beijing, but has qualified in the 5000 meter event in London. He qualified for the Olympic team with a very fast time of 13 minutes, 24 seconds.
Lomong hasn’t forgotten his roots. According to NBC:
Since establishing himself in the United States, Lomong has not turned his back on his Sudanese heritage or his family back in Africa. In 2009, he began raising money for the reconstruction of the church from which he was kidnapped as a youngster. The Reconciliation Church situated just outside of Kimotong will have a 250-seat space for Roman Catholic services, a multipurpose hall for hosting classes and meetings, and an area for a storage and distribution center for relief food programs. He also began to lay the groundwork to bring his younger brothers, Peter and Alex to the United States. Both arrived in 2010 and attend Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia.
Good luck Lopez!
Rower Giuseppe Lanzone came from a small town in Peru before his mother moved the family to Virginia when Giuseppe was 15 years old. He began rowing competitively in high school while also playing on his schools’ football team. He went on to row for the University of Washington where he graduated with a communications degree in 2005.
Like many on the US team, immigration factored in to his career. NBC reports
After graduating college, Lanzone returned to Peru for a couple of months, as he hadn't spent significant time there since he left at age 15. When he returned to the U.S., he showed up at Princeton to train with the national team. While he was aiming to make the world championship team in 2006, Lanzone had other things to worry about as well, namely the status of his citizenship. He made the world team, but needed a U.S. passport in order to compete. Two days before the crew left for Eton, Great Britain, Lanzone got a call from his high school coach, Jim Mitchell, who told him he had to get to Washington D.C. that afternoon because his citizenship had gone through. "It takes about three-and-a-half hours to get to D.C. from Princeton," Lanzone said. "I got there in two hours and forty-five minutes." Changing in the parking lot, Lanzone had his interview and took the test, passing with a perfect score. "I was sworn in the next morning, they gave me my passport, and I drove back to Princeton for practice that afternoon."
His good looks and athletic skills have combined to give him a career in modeling. Lanzone has modeled the 2008 and 2012 Team USA outfits for Ralph Lauren, the appointed designer.
Lanzone competed in the 8 man rowing event. The team finished fourth, a solid finish for Team USA.
Kenyan-born Bernard Lagat is a veteran Olympian competing in his Olympics in distance running. London will be his third as an American citizen on Team USA. He’s competed in both the 1500 and 5000 meter distances. He’s got bronze and silver Olympic medals and recently claimed American records in the 5000 meter distance. He’s competing in the 5K race in London with a preliminary heat on Wednesday.
NBC describes his path to the Olympics:
Growing up on a family farm in Kapsabet, Kenya, Lagat ran a mile and a half to school each day, then home for lunch, back to school, and home again at dismissal. For all that, he was little more than a mediocre runner by his mid-teens. As his faster peers turned pro, Lagat entered Jomo Kenyatta University near Nairobi in 1996. After a coach there spotted Lagat's talent and contacted several American schools, Washington State took a chance. Within a year, Lagat was winning Pac-10 meets en route to a title-filled NCAA career.
Greg Siskind is a partner in Siskind Susser's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.