By Roger Alfred Yoron Modi, Sawa Sawa Network
JUBA — Two South Sudanese athletes Abraham Majok Guem and Lucia Moris have said their modest performance in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan is due to lack of adequate support from the South Sudan National Olympic Committee (NOC), the body founded to represent South Sudan at the International Olympic Committee.
The two who spoke on Sawa Sawa Network’s program The Weekly Review revealed that their participation in the Olympics was supported through a project between Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) JICA, South Sudan and the Japanese city of Maebashi which they are grateful for and asked South Sudanese authorities to start doing better for the athletes.
“The main support was coming from Maebashi City. The agreement was that we be given training facilities, feeding and accommodation. And then, as an athlete, it’s not all about feeding, accommodation and training facilities. There are other things that we need like other food supplements, like other athletes and other needs. So sometimes, those became our challenges,” Guem said.
“We were told to call our National Olympics Committee to address some of those issues since they were not in the agreement. And also sometimes our families have needs. Yet we don’t get any single dollar. Sometimes when we text the National Olympics Committee, we don’t get any reply and we wonder whether we are doing this representation for ourselves or the Country. Those things cause stress and in the end bring us the results that we got.”
Guem got a personal best of 3:40.86 in 1500m and Lucia’s personal best in 200 m is 24:71.
Guem believes that South Sudanese athletes, when supported well, can be able to achieve better results.
“Maebashi City really tried their best to support us but that part of the home side was really lacking and we would like our government to really give support to our Olympic Committee if really the problem is the Olympic Committee doesn’t get support from our Country. And if they get support and this support is in turn used for other things, then we would like our Olympic Committee to really try and understand what is needed in athletics and what athletes need and provide them these basic needs,” he said, adding that South Sudan “has potential athletes that are capable of getting whatever the Country want, the kind of results like Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, US, Japan and any other Country in the World.”
Sawa Sawa Network’s efforts to get comments from the South Sudan National Olympics Committee through their official contacts have not been successful.
Sports for Unity and Peace
Since 2016, South Sudan Ministry of Youth and Sports with support from JICA has been hosting National Unity Day (NUD) annually with the aim of promoting peace and unity through sports in the country.
Lucia said the NUD which she joined in Wau, Western Bahr el Ghazal helped prepare her for athletics.
“Sports can bring peace. Like we started at the National Unity Day which brought together many people, now many of us know each other. We came to know each other through the National Unity Day which was through JICA. To bring peace in our Country we need to work together,” Lucia said.
Guem and Lucia both appreciate South Sudanese fans for following and sending them support messages during and after their participation in the Olympics in Japan.
“Very many people know Sports is a very powerful tool towards peace-building. Sports activities are activities that are based on building up unity among people, even the motto of Olympics says: faster, higher, stronger together, that is something related to peace and unity.
“According to the feedback I got, I felt that my country’s people really love Sports. They deserve some greater results than what we got. But what we got is what we deserve given the level of support we received because everything was okay here (in Japan) but we also had other things which we lacked.
“I would really advise my Country to be able to invest more in the Sports sector because this is one big event that exposes the Country to the world. Sport also goes together with peace. I would like our County to be able to accept our cry and build up a peaceful nation. We should be able to forgive one another and move as one
“I would like South Sudan to consider developing Sports at the grassroots level, and encouraging Sports activities like tournaments, leagues, and all those. And this is another way that we can build Sports very fast, not only based on National Unity Day where few individuals get a chance to participate.”
Both athletes say the success of Athin Mu, the-19-year-old American Citizen originally from South Sudan who won the USA’s first Olympic 800 meter gold in almost 50 years inspires them that they too can win greatly when given the right support.