Lopez Lomong was born in Kimotong, a small village in southern Sudan in 1985. Lopez had a happy childhood until one day, when he was 6 years old, his whole life was turned upside down. His village was attacked while he was attending church, and Lopez was taken by rebel soldiers from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. After weeks of watching other boys slowly die in the rebel camp, Lopez was able to escape through a hole in the fence with the help of three other boys. Lopez and these boys ran for three days through the African plains until they reached Kenya and were placed in a refugee camp.
Lopez would spend the next 10 years in this refugee camp, attending “school,” playing soccer and trying to survive day to day on the small rations that were provided to the boys. One day, when Lopez was 16, the opportunity of a lifetime arose. Lopez wrote an essay to the Catholic Charities about what he would do if he were able to come to the U.S. His essay moved the people Catholic Charities so much that he became one of the Lost Boys of Sudan who were relocated to the United State to begin a new life.
Leaving Africa behind, Lopez found himself an adopted member of the Rodgers family in Tully, New York, a stark contrast from the plains of Africa. To feel at home, Lopez would go on long runs, as he had done in Kenya, and he drew the attention of his high school cross country coach. It was here that his running career began. Lopez showed immense potential and went on from New York to Northern Arizona University where he won two NCAA championships.In 2007, Lopez became a professional runner and in 2008, after becoming a US citizen, he made the Olympic team, proudly representing his new country, the USA. At the Beijing Olympics Lopez was voted by his fellow countrymen to carry the US flag into the opening ceremonies, and he went on to perform well, making it to the semi-finals of the 1500m.In this time, Lopez has also had the opportunity to return to his homeland of Sudan and meet the parents that he thought had been killed during the raid on his village. He has a heart and passion to see peace in the country of his birth that continues to be ravaged by civil war. Lopez’s desire is to spread the word about what is happening in Sudan and to build a community center to give hope and opportunities to people who started out just like him.Lopez is currently living in Beaverton, Oregon and training for the 2012 London Olympics.