Margret Rumat Rumar Hassan (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - South Sudan will make its Olympic debut at the Rio Games and will be represented by teenagers Margret Rumat Rumar Hassan and Santino Kenyi, and marathon runner Guor Marial.
The North-East African country has more than 12 million residents, but it was only formally recognised as an official International Olympic Committee (IOC) member in August 2015.
19-year-old Margret Rumat Rumar Hassan will participate in the 200m, while her and 16-year-old compatriot Santino Kenyi race in the 1500m.
At 32-years-old, Marial is the elder statesman as he also took part in the 2012 London Games, but he competed under the Olympic flag instead of the Sudan one. He finished a respectable 47th in the marathon in London with a time of 2:19:32.
Hassan, who hails from Wau city in north-western South Sudan, was displaced with her family at a young age, but she has overcome many obstacles to make it to the Rio Olympics.
"Sometimes I wake up and I have breakfast and other days I don't have breakfast," she said in an Olympic YouTube video posted in August.
"But I have the courage and I think I will get there."
But her selection for the Rio Games has not been greeted warmly by everyone as secretary-general of South Sudan's National Olympic Committee Tong Chor Malek Deran claimed in interviews he "felt pressured" to select her because she featured in an advertising campaign for Samsung.
"We have selected Margret as she is Olympian (Nanjing Youth Olympics 2014) her activity was shown during our recognition by IOC in Kuala Lumpur (at the meeting where South Sudan was admitted to the Olympic Games), and moreover she has been contracted by Samsung to commercial on way to Rio, so we are to complete her story to Rio," he wrote to The Guardian.
Electronics giant Samsung has denied they had any influence in her selection, saying in a statement: "
Samsung does not have any sponsorship agreements with the South Sudanese Olympic team, and Samsung was not involved in the South Sudanese National Olympic Committee's decisions."