The story of Gour Maker, a native of Sudan, Africa, is one for the books. He was a slave who fled twice before successfully escaping to the United States, a two-time Olympian, and now a proud member of the US Air Force.
“When I was captured, I was forced to be a slave laborer,” Maker said on his horrible life in Sudan. “I would wash dishes or do anything else needed to get by. I slept in a small cell and rarely got to eat…but not always.”
When Maker entered the U.S., he was determined to turn his life around and be somebody.
“I wanted to change my life, help my parents back in South Sudan, and give my future children a better childhood than the one I had,” he said. “And the only way to do that was through education and determination.”
Maker quickly learned English and his success story started when his high school teachers introduced him to running.
Running was always just natural and easy for me. It was a great high school experience and it helped me meet a lot of friends, build confidence and it was genuinely fun,” Maker shared.
Through hard work and unbelievable determination, the former slave was able to realize his dream of competing in the Olympics. First, in 2012 men’s marathon as an unaffiliated athlete since Sudan just gained independence. And in 2016 as a marathon athlete for South Sudan.
Walking into that stadium, carrying the South Sudan flag was just indescribable,” said Maker. “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.”
Now that he has done his duty to Sudan, Maker now intends to dedicate his life serving the country that provided him the chance to dream and make something of himself by serving in the US Air Force.
“All of the things I’ve accomplished have derived from the opportunities the U.S. has afforded me,” Maker said. “When I first came to America, I didn’t have hardly anything, but with the support and opportunity this country has given me, I’ve been able to completely change my life.”