08/02/2012 09:09 am ET Updated Aug 02, 2012

7 Olympians From Some Of World's Poorest Countries Compete In London Games (SLIDESHOW)

As the world celebrates Michael Phelps' record-breaking last lap or Aly Raisman's photo-finish landing, we must remember that the heart of the games isn't the grand gold-medal-bearing podium moment -- it's the stories of individual struggle and sacrifice.

In truth, the Olympic Creed hearkens to what happens long before the champions are named.

"The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle,” the creed reads. “The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

For the athletes hailing from some of the most underprivileged nations of the world -- places that are struck with poverty, intense violence and are granted few sporting resources -- these words are what their athletes live by, on and off of the field.

From Benin, where its judo champs can’t afford uniforms, to Burundi, where half the population lives below the poverty line, seven athletes have climbed out from the depths of despair to make their way to the world’s most celebrated competitive stage.

Read through seven extraordinary stories of triumph, of those who fought overwhelming obstacles to achieve their Olympic dreams.