What's In A Name?
Less than a week after their big brother broke the American record in the indoor 5,000 meters at The Armory, Alex and Peter Lomong got their first taste of competition here.
Alex is a freshman and Peter is a sophomore at Virginia’s Fort Union Military Academy. They ran in the emerging elite division of the boys 4x800 relay and finished seventh (7:59.87).
Friday brought a big moment to the two boys, who moved from impoverished Sudan to the United States four years ago after Lopez Lomong’s story was detailed on HBO’s "Real Sports."
Major Winston Brown, the head track coach at Fort Union, saw the show and reached out to Lopez Lomong and initiated an 18-month process to bring Alex and Peter to the U.S.
"They were little boys when they arrived,” Brown said. “They’ve grown a lot, but they’re still young guys."
Alex and Peter both top six feet and have long, slender builds that suit them well to distance running.
Less than a year after the Virginia family took in the two boys from Africa, the Browns welcomed a baby boy named Jonah into family.
"(Alex and Peter) have been wonderful brothers for my son," Brown said.
They don’t see Lopez very often, but he is expected to be at The Armory sometime during the weekend to visit with them.
And, of course, they’ve seen him on TV. Lopez Lomong ran a sensational record-breaking mile at the Millrose Games on Feb. 16 and then broke the record in the 5,000 at the Columbia Final Qualifier Meet on March 1.
"If feels awesome," Alex Lomong said after stepping off The Armory track. "It's amazing to run in the same place as my brother."
Said Peter: "We watched (Lopez) last weekend and it motivated me a lot."
The Lomong brother are expected to run on a sprint medley relay on Saturday.
Alex would like to pursue his goals in the spring in the 800 meters. Peter said he liked the 800, too, but may concentrate on the mile. Expectations tend to grow outsized with the last name Lomong.
"These guys are young and growing," Brown cautioned. "They're slowly progressing."
Peter, in particular, relishes the educational opportunities that never existed back in Africa. Unlike Alex, he was burdened with out-sized responsibilities, such as herding cattle, at a young age. Alex may have a little bit more running talent hopes to follow in Lopez’s footsteps.
"You've got to keep in mind that Lopez is a one-in-a-billion person," Brown said.
"They're great teammates, fun to work out with and hang out with," Fort Union senior and lead-off leg Russ Garver said.
"I think they're really inspiring," senior teammate Nemuel Okaah said. "Being one of the older guys on the team, they push me to be better."