Sudanese-Australian runner Peter Bol made a presence for the first time as Australia had entered the men's 800m final since 1968.
SYDNEY, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- Late Wednesday night Australians across the nation were glued to their television screens as they watched Peter Bol compete in the men's 800m final in Tokyo. His appearance marks the first time an Australian has made the event's finals since 1968.
Bol led the pack throughout the first lap in what was a relatively slow-paced race. It wasn't until the second lap that two Kenyan runners, Emmanuel Korir and Ferguson Rotich, managed to pull ahead. Polish runner Patryk Dobek narrowly came in third leaving the Bol medal-less in fourth place.
Kenya has long been undefeated in the event, claiming gold at every Olympics since Beijing 2008.
"I didn't know if I was going to win but I knew one thing for certain, that the whole of Australia was watching and that carried me on," said Bol shortly after the race.
And indeed, the whole of Australia was watching.
Despite not making the podium Bol's run managed to inspire the nation, his underdog story uplifting Aussies everywhere, many of who are struggling through ongoing lockdowns.
Bol was born in Sudan in 1994. His family fled turmoil in their homeland, spending time first in Egypt before immigrating to Australia in 2004 as refugees. Almost two decades on and the 27-year-old has come to embody what it means to be an Australian hero - triumph against all odds.
And while he didn't finish the Games as a traditional hero by taking home gold, he captured what to many Aussies is more important: the ethos of "having a crack", or giving it your all.
His journey has inspired Australians from all walks of life but in particular, African-Australians, who often struggle to find their place and identity as Australians.
In an interview published in local media outlet The West Australian on Wednesday, Bol talked about the role running has played in his life: "This journey has been about community, finding my place in Australia and learning about myself and the world."
A trackside reporter asked Bol what he thought his run might mean to the Sudanese community in Australia, to which he replied:
"To Australia I'm thankful, and to everyone in Australia because we're just human at the end of the day. We inspired the whole nation and that is the goal."
During Bol's interview, Australia's Olympic video feed cut to Bol's family who had packed into their Perth home to watch the race. Their excitement was palpable.
"Win or lose, we're winners regardless of what happened," said one of Bol's family members.