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Windward School student Oliver Curry says he’ll have to root for Zambia during the Olympic 800 meter track event. Curry is one of many Southern Californians who will be supporting Prince Mumba – who trains at Santa Monica Track Club and coaches at the Mar Vista private school – as he races for the gold. Robert Kovacik reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on July 17, 2012.
While most Southern Californians will be chanting "USA! USA!" when the 2012 London Olympics begin, one group of local residents will have their eye on an athlete from another country.
Prince Mumba of Zambia, who will be competing in the 800 meters, is considered a national treasure in his African nation.
At Windward School in the Mar Vista section of Los Angeles, he's the adored assistant track coach.
"He has a special place in all of our hearts," said Oliver Curry, a student at the private school. "I think, for this race, we are going to have to go for Zambia, and we are going to have to go for Prince."
Mumba's former students have even made T-shirts that proclaim their affection and support for their athletic mentor. They state: "Prince: The heart of a champion."
"I was humbled for the difference I made in the kids' lives," Mumba said of the shirts.
Mumba trains at the Santa Monica Track Club, which he said might help him end his journey to London standing on the podium, with a medal around his neck.
At the opening ceremony, he's likely to bear the Zambian flag. But Mumba said he'll be in London for more than his homeland.
"I am not just representing my country. I am my representing my track club and the Windward School. And I am representing my family and I am also representing the kids that I coach," he said.
And he plans, even if he medals, to return to mentor young runners at Windward.