Lopez Lomong is pretty familiar with running. As a U.S. Olympian, he has trained tirelessly for the men’s 5000m event. But that’s not where Lopez’s running journey began.

When Lopez was six years old, he was abducted by rebel soldiers in a small village in South Sudan. He was held captive in prison for weeks and watched as many malnourished child soldiers died all around him. When Lopez and his friends heard that they were about to be trained for war, they escaped on foot in the middle of the night. They ran for three days before they arrived in Kenya.

“That’s when my race started,” explained Lopez.

For ten years, Lopez ran several miles a day to escape hunger. During this time, he often overheard his friends talking about the Olympics, but he never knew what they were.

When he was 15, Lopez and his friends walked five miles to a neighbor’s home to watch the men’s 400m dash on a small black and white TV. He had never seen any race of this kind.

At the first opportunity, Lopez boarded a plane for the U.S. where he was adopted, became a citizen and joined the Olympic team. He is currently participating in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Freely.

The below commercial of Lopez made the rounds in our office after it premiered prior to the London Olympic games. Enjoy.

(Photo credit: Tim Lawrence)

*Honorable mention: Lopez Lomong’s book Running for My Life tells his story in its entirety.