With the Olympics right around the corner, you'll soon have so much to keep track of that a lot will slip through the cracks. That's why I wanted to get something really important out of the way, and make sure that everyone is aware of who Margret Rumat Rumat Hassan is. That's the question we all need to be asking in the days leading up to the Opening Ceremony, because the answer is just about as inspirational as they come. Granted, I'm already a sucker for the Olympics, but just watching a two minute commercial starring Hassan designed to sell headphones had me in floor to ceiling goosebumps with literal tears running down my cheeks. Basically, this is a big one.
As you might have gathered from the context, Hassan is an Olympic athlete poised to compete in this year's Rio Games. At just 19 years old, Hassan is already beyond impressive — she's accomplished more than all of us, and she's still a teenager — but her achievements are made all the more impressive by the fact that Hassan hails from the South Sudan. Specifically, she is from Wau, South Sudan, where, as recently as 2015, this world-class athlete didn't even have access to a gym. The country only achieved its independence from Sudan proper in 2011, so this will be their first appearance at the Olympic games, a sentence that puts a huge smile on my face just typing it out.
After describing her daily activities, which only sometimes include eating, and sometimes as little as a banana, Hassan underlines yet again how seriously she takes the competition and how little in the way of material things she needs in order to achieve her dream:
I am preparing myself for training day and night, that's what I am doing every day to prepare. [...] Sometimes I jog from my home to the training ground, but in regards to a gym, I don't have access to one. But I'm thankful. I am going to the Olympics, but I have some fears. I am nervous. But I have the courage, and I think when I get there, I will meet the other athletes who have courage too. I pray to god to be the first or the second.
As little as we know about this talented runner, one thing that's clear is that Hassan has never let obstacles stand in her way. After all, she trained her way to the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China, where she competed in the Women's 400m as an Independent Olympic Athlete, before South Sudan was recognized. Now, of course, she's made it all the way to Rio, where she's one of just three South Sudanese athletes to proudly compete under their country's flag — this time in the Women's 200m. And if your heart isn't already bursting with pride for this talented young athlete, just take a look at her in Samsung's Olympic promo, and prepare to completely lose it.
I'm not even from the South Sudan, and I'm overwhelmed with emotion and excitement for Margret Rumat Rumat Hassan. No offense to the American athletes that I'm probably supposed to be rooting for, just on account of patriotism, but my fingers couldn't be any more tightly crossed for Hassan.