Why I’m watching the men’s 1500m track event – and why you should too

Joseph Lopepe "Lopez" Lomong will carry the U.S. flag at the 2008 Olympic Games opening ceremony in Beijing Friday.

This is my favorite Olympics story. Ever. And I'm not alone.

Lomong is alive today because as a forced child soldier in Sudan, he put down his gun, and pretty much ran across the country until he found a priest.

After the long process that is finding foster parents in a safer country, Lomong was adopted by the Robert and Barbara Rogers, who live in the small town of Tully, N.Y., about 20 miles south of Syracuse.

He ran track and cross country for Tully High School, becoming as big a celebrity as an athlete in those sports becomes.

I hope there's some sort of journalism award out there for Maureen Sieh, who holds the title of Urban Affairs Editor at our local paper, The Post-Standard. She's been writing about Lomong for a while now, and she recently told the Rogers' story.

He was one of the "lost boys" featured in a documentary that first aired on PBS' "Point of View".

In July of 2007, he was granted U.S. citizenship, and he qualified for the men's 1500 meter in this year's Olympics.

About 500 people showed up for a fundraiser last night, during which participants ran a 3-mile relay, carrying a cardboard cutout of Lomong. The relay was anchored by his high school coach, Jim Paccia.

Paccia and his wife, along with the Rogerses, are going to Beijing to cheer on Lomong, and the fundraiser was to help the two couples offset their costs a bit.

The men's 1500m takes place August 15 in the morning. I know Central New York will be holding its collective breath.


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