East Timor: Marathoner Captures London Hearts

This post is part of our special coverage London 2012 Olympics.

Young marathoner Augusto Soares, 25, captured the hearts of the Olympic marathon audience with his perseverance and good humor. He competed in Beijing four years ago, but did not finish, so this time around his goal was to finish the race.

Much of the competition he was at the tail end; there was the sense that his smiling run was one of the closing moments of London 2012 Olympics. (He came in second to last with a time of 2:45:09.)

Augusto Soares of East Timor waves to the enthusiastic crowds who lined the streets of London Wall and Barbican. Photo by Richard Soans copyright Demotix (12/08/2012)

Augusto Soares of East Timor waves to the enthusiastic crowds who lined the streets of London Wall and Barbican. Photo by Richard Soans copyright Demotix (12/08/2012)

Annie Martin tweeted

The Olympic Marathon is brilliant, am waving my flags outside Monument. Love the straggler from Timor Leste beaming from ear to ear!

Chris Spillane tweeted

My favourite Olympian. Soares of East Timor in last place in the Men's Marathon. True Olympic spirit http://yfrog.com/obrxpmjj

Youtube user Marwat86 captured the cheering for Soares as he passed on his last lap.

The UN interviewed Soares and his team mate Juventina Napoleao, who started training only two months prior to the Olympics.

Soares was interviewed by blogger Celso Oliveira. He said one of his biggest motivations was to

liu husi partisipasaun Timor nian bele mos fo’o hanoin hikas fali ba maluk Timor oan sira nebe namkari lemo lemo iha ema rain katak Timor liberdade ona no moris iha dame nia laran.

through Timor's participation be able to remind Timorese people spread out all over the world that Timor is free already and living in peace

Soares said he would love to be an example for young people and develop sports in his young nation.

Maibe, hau labele halo buat ida se wainhira hau mesak, tamba bat hotu fila fali ba ema bo’ot sira. Hau bele dehan hau hari'i klubu ida atleta barak, maibe eventu la iha sa ida mak akontese, atleta sira treino ka sira ba fali sira nia fatin. Ne’e ita atu dezenvolve desporto?

But, I can't do anything if I am on my own, because everything goes back to our leaders. I can say I [will] create one club with many athletes, but if we have no events what will happen, athletes will train or they will go home. Is that going to develop sports?

Soares talks about how he was recruited personally as a schoolboy in Balibar, a mountain village above the capital, by Timorese Olympian Aguida Amaral.

Diak. Hau konhese desportu halai ne'e primeiro liu husi mana ida naran Aguida Fatima Amaral. Iha momentu ne’e, hau sei eskola iha foho i sei hela ho pai i mae. Depois loron ida mana ne’e to’o ba iha ami nia eskola atu registu ema atu tama iha mana nia klubu naran SLB. […] Hafoin ami treino iha neba mana ne’e hare ami nebe mak halai diak oitoan entaun foti ami tun mai hela no treino iha dili.

Well. I heard about running through a woman named Aguida Fatima Amaral. At that time, I was still in school in the mountains and I still lived with my mother and father. Then one day, this Aguida came to our school to register people for her club called SLB. […] Just as we trained up there, Aguida saw that we could run pretty well and she brought us down to Dili to train.

This post is part of our special coverage London 2012 Olympics.


  • Sparts

    It’s a real shame you can’t even get the name of the country correct.
    The country name is very much Timor Leste and is only referred to as East Timor by the ill informed. This is terribly disrespectful I’m afraid.

    • Viva

      I think its lovely that this person has put this together. Many in the West know Timor Leste as East Timor (it is a translation of the name after all — and the departments of foreign affairs in a number of western countries including Australia still persevere in calling it East Timor in diplomatic relations, so perhaps you should critique them first rather than a blogger. Then you’d find the style guides of major news outlets might be more likely to change.). I don’t think the poster intends any disrespect when they have gone to the effort to showcase the Olympic Spirit of Timor’s competitors. I think it is poor form when those from the Timor community (especially the expats, because it usually is expats) slam positive coverage of the country based on tiny points like this, when such positive coverage is sorely needed to raise the country’s profile and to challenge misconceptions about the country.

      Thank you for showcasing Augusto and Juventina’s amazing effort at the games.

    • chill

      not sure disrespect is intended, nor should any be taken. timor-leste is the official name – in portuguese. east timor is the english version. just like, for example, japan, or germany. you don’t hear too many people insisting on anglophones using nippon or deutchland, do you?

    • HJ

      Ack, Mr. Sparts: as I’m sure you know, Leste is simply Portuguese for East. Is the French calling New Zealand Nouvelle Zélande or the Portuguese calling Deutschland Alemanha any different? Would you prefer we refer to Japan as Nippon? I think what’s more of a shame is you distracting from this lovely story with your silly bone to pick!

      By the way, it’s officially Timor-Leste or Timor Lorosa’e, not Timor Leste… but no big deal!

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.