One of the first Olympians to represent the country of South Sudan and the star of Samsung's inspiring "The Chant" ad has already made waves at the Rio Olympics, but will Margret Rumat Rumat Hassan win medals? It's already a huge win for both the athlete and her country that she, a 19-year-old runner, is at the Olympics in the first place, and while it's impossible to determine for sure who will win any given event, there are usually a few frontrunners to keep an eye on. Unfortunately, though, it seems that Hassan is not likely to be one of them.
Hassan does not yet appear to be a frontrunner for the 200 meter dash, the event she will run in the 2016 Olympics. The athlete ran the 400 meter dash in the Summer Youth Olympics in China in 2014, coming in 19th out of 20. Still, you never know how Hassan will perform in Rio, especially given the amount of attention placed on her during this competition. As The Guardian relays, there has been tension about the athletes chosen to compete in the 2016 games, with the South Sudan Athletics Federation resenting the South Sudan National Olympic Committee's decision to have Hassan race, claiming that the choice was because of Hassan's popularity and not because she is the fastest athlete. Indeed, The Guardian notes that Hassan is not the fastest female sprinter from South Sudan, with Viola Lado recently beating her at the African Games in Durban. Because she has not often medalled when running against elite international competitors, it seems unlikely that Hassan will bring home medals this time around.
Regardless of what happens at the Olympics themselves, this is a historic moment for Hassan and her country. South Sudan only recently became independent from Sudan in 2011 after years of civil war, and Hassan and fellow Olympian Santino Kenyi (who is only 16) are the first Olympic athletes to represent the continually struggling nation. It's a very big deal that they're at Rio, and no matter what happens, it's a big moment of pride for the nation.
It's this historic occasion that provides the emotional backdrop to Samsung's popular new "The Chant" advertisement. The ad depicts Hassan preparing to run at the Olympics (with a Samsung Galaxy S7 and the Gear IconX wireless earbuds, of course), as well as the people of South Sudan rallying around her as a national symbol and role model for young women. It's chill-inducing, and it has probably already made millions of Olympic viewers tear up.
Hassan was a logical pick for such a heartwarming Olympic ad. According to Quartz, she comes from the South Sudan city of Wau. Her family was displaced during the war, and Hassan was unable to finish her primary education. Her running career began when a friend convinced her to run in a local competition, but in a 2015 Olympics video, Hassan mentioned that there was not even a gym around to train in. And yet today, she's at Rio, competing with the most elite athletes in the world.
So regardless of whether she returns from Rio with medals, this has clearly been a major win for both Hassan and her country.