Douglas Freeman's Waleed Suliman impresses inside, outside the c - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Douglas Freeman's Waleed Suliman impresses inside, outside the classroom

Waleed Suliman (Source: NBC12) Waleed Suliman (Source: NBC12)
HENRICO, VA (WWBT) -

"I've never had the opportunity previously to coach anybody nearly as talented as Waleed."

Those were the words of Douglas Freeman High School head coach Brian Reutinger as he spoke about Waleed Suliman.

Waleed has only been in the United States for a little more than two years and he's already one of the best runners in the state, perhaps the nation.

A native of Jordan, his family has endured a long process and wait to make the journey from the third world to the first.

"My parents are refugees from Sudan, so they signed up as refugees in Jordan,” Waleed explained. “We had to wait about eight years until all the papers get done and come over here.”

Suliman and his family arrived in 2014, before his sophomore year of high school. Upon meeting with a guidance counselor, Suliman expressing great interest in joining the cross country team, a group that's been crucial in his transition.

"First when I came here, I had trouble with the language and I couldn't actually make a lot of friends with that, so the cross country team actually helped me a lot and I learned a couple words from them,” Waleed said.

"The guys who were on the team at the time really put him under their wings and they took care of him,” Coach Reutinger explained. “They showed him the ropes and they taught him and that's where he got his first taste of American culture.”

One of the biggest differences for Suliman was his educational experience. In Jordan, students often face physical punishment for missing assignments or mistakes and sub-par educational conditions.

Now, the high school senior says he's getting grades he never thought possible.

“Not a lot of education over there and stuff like that,” Waleed said. “No one cares about anything and I came over here and found out people actually care about everything so I had to be like those guys. If I want to be big, I have to be like them.”

Suliman is doing just that, performing big, winning five state titles last year between cross country and track.

This summer, he's been watching the world's best compete on the Olympic stage, where he someday hopes to end up, and, while Suliman may not be from the United States, when it comes to country pride, he's as American as they come.

"They welcomed me in here,” he shared. “They took care of me, especially all my friends. People here are so friendly and if I became a citizen here, I should represent team USA in the Olympics, at least to say thank you to them or something like that."

Suliman has received several college offers, among them, Ole Miss, Alabama, NC State, and Virginia Tech.

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