south sudan football
An image showing the rear of the new South Sudan national team football jerseyReuters

It is a proud moment for African nation South Sudan as it officially became the 206th Olympic nation and is set to compete in the Rio Olympics 2016.

The African republic, which became independent in 2011, got the big inclusion after a unanimous approval from the International Olympics Committee (IOC) executive members at the 128th IOC session in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Sports leaders from South Sudan and Sudan became emotional as IOC President Thomas Bach announced: "This will put your nation on the world map. We will stand by your side."

One of the nation's well-known athletes is Guor Marial. The 31-year-old track-and-field athlete competed in the men's marathon at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London under the Olympic flag. He stood 47th in the race.

His case was referred to as 'unique' by the IOC members, as prior to the London Olympics South Sudan was yet to form a National Olympic Committee.

But three years down the line, their fortunes have dramatically changed.

"It is very simple, the goal is to win a medal if I am healthy and train well," Marial said from his training base in Kenya.

"I have been working for this since 2005. This is a dream come true," Marial added. "There will be nothing better than competing in Rio under the South Sudanese flag.

"We can bring unity and the sport we have initiated across the country can unite all 64 tribes and all 10 states in the divided nation."

The country may not have an international standard athletics track, but it is possibly relying on international aid to build up their sports infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the nation also has its men's football team, which is all set to take part in the qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

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