KAMPALA, UGANDA - Runner William Yach Majok carries a nation's pride on his shoulders as he prepares for the World Athletics Championships, which begin Friday in Doha, Qatar.
The middle-distance runner will be South Sudan's only athlete at the games, running in the 1,500-meter competition.
Majok is training in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, this week at the Mandela National Stadium, under the watchful eye of South Sudanese coach Joseph Anthony and Ugandan coach Raphael Kassaja.
Majok ran the 1,500 in three minutes and 49 seconds at the All-Africa games in Morocco, four seconds slower than his personal best.
He believes he will make South Sudan proud in Doha.
When I go there in world champs, I will be good, because last time I did bad in all Africa games in Morocco, but I see I am going to get good things. Because I have my colleagues from Uganda, they are the ones pushing me to do better, Majok told VOA's South Sudan in Focus.
Sometimes, he trains with Uganda's Ronald Musagala, who is currently ranked number-three in the world in the 1,500-meter category.
His trainer Joseph Anthony said he is hopeful "Yach," as he is commonly known, will bring glory for South Sudan.
"We want him to go and participate and get a high record in the name of our country, South Sudan. We want to be known in the world and we are getting William ready for this, Anthony told South Sudan in Focus.
Majok and other South Sudanese athletes are training in Kampala because of a lack of top-flight facilities at home. The other athletes are preparing for a competition in Juba.
Kassaja said it is only a matter of time before Majok and other South Sudanese begin dominating at sports competitions in the region.
Previously it has been Kenya and Ethiopia, but I think with the South Sudanese coming into the picture it's going to be a very good competition because they are really gifted. One of the advantages the South Sudanese have is the height advantage and with that height and those long legs, trust me anything is possible, Kassaja said.
In the past, South Sudanese athletes have failed to participate in international events because of a lack of funding. Others, like Santino Kenyi, received financial support from friends and family members so they could participate in world events.
The 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships are scheduled to take place from September 27 to October 6 in Doha, Qatar. At least 2,000 athletes are expected to take part in the championships.
Source: Voice of America