Guor Maker first settled in the United States in 2001, in Concord, New Hampshire. He and his family had traveled a long, long road to arrive in New England—and now he was able to look to the future for the first time in many years.
That path in front of him eventually led Guor to the United States Air Force, where he is currently serving in technical training.
The Airman 1st Class isn't taking anything for granted. "I was very excited to come to the U.S.," he says. "Looking back at everything my family and I endured, it is a miracle that we made it out of there."
Guor was born in South Sudan. At just 8 years old, his family got caught up—as many of his countrymen did—in the Second Sudanese Civil War. Young Guor lost dozens of family members, including 8 of his 9 siblings. So he fled, only reaching his uncle in the city of Khartoum after 3 years of trials and tribulations, including 2 stints where Guor was forced into slave labor. Amazingly, the brave and resilient young man made it to the United States.
Then he made it to the Olympics.
As a track-and-field competitor, Guor participated in both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games. In 2012, he competed independently, since South Sudan was not recognized as a participating nation and he was not yet a United States citizen. But in 2016, Guor's incredible dedication paid off; he was able to run on behalf of an independent South Sudan.
"Walking into that stadium, carrying the South Sudan flag was just indescribable," he remembers. "The people of South Sudan were in my mind the whole time I was running into the stadium with that flag and it meant so much to me."
Very much a dual citizen, however, Guor decided to serve in the U.S. Air Force in part to recognize the help he had received from his adopted country. "I couldn't have accomplished any of it without all the support I received from my family and the opportunity the United States gave me," he says of his Olympic achievements.
And he's not done yet. Guor hopes to join the Air Force World Class Athlete Program, which would allow him to train for the 2020 Olympics while serving! We are absolutely cheering him on!