Meb Keflezighi won’t be intimidated in London
Source: USA TODAY
He is a tiny man, but Mebrahtom “Meb” Keflezighi has accomplished great things, and he thinks there could be another great Olympic marathon in him, even at age 37.
Keflezighi, who is 5-5 and 125 pounds, was a surprise silver medalist at age 29 in the 2004 Olympic marathon in Athens, becoming the first U.S. man to medal in the marathon since Frank Shorter won gold in 1972 and silver in 1976, helping to launch a running boom in the U.S.
Keflezighi was born in 1975 inEritrea, and he had a hard childhood, surrounded by poverty and war. Eventually, his family left the African country and settled inSan Diegowhen he was 12. He became a distance running star in high school and then at UCLA.
After winning the Olympic silver medal eight years ago, Keflezighi had some ups and downs with injuries, and failed to make the 2008 Olympic team. But he has roared back since then, winning the New York Marathon in 2009 and winning the Olympic trials in January inHoustonwith a personal record of 2 hours, 9.08 seconds.
He will be joined at the start of the Olympic marathon inLondonby fellow Americans Ryan Hall and Abdi Abdirahman, a naturalizedU.S.citizen who was born inSomalia.
Their chief rivals will be Africans, primarily Kenyans and Ethiopians.
The main game plan in London will be to be healthy. Of course, we know the Kenyans will be there. The question is, will they be in peak form and how is their fitness? Hopefully, we will be fit and we’ll put out our “A” game and see what happens in the race.
The course seems to be very scenic, not that we will be paying much attention to the scenery. I think it will be very nice for the spectators.
I’ve just tried to continue my training and focus on staying healthy. If I do, I still think I can run another PR. I’m 37 now, but I still think I can run faster than I ever have before. I don’t know if the Kenyans are going to run 2:05 on that day. But I wouldn’t be surprised if I run significantly faster than my PR, especially after what I did inHouston with not that much time to get ready.
I am not intimidated by the times of the Kenyans. I ran against runners with fast times in the Olympics in 2004 and I ended up winning a silver medal. I ran against fast runners inNew York and I won the New York Marathon. The secret of running and the secret of fitness is to do it at the right time. There are many people who have run very fast but have not medaled at the Olympic Games.
I’ve been fortunate to be able to accomplish so much at a relatively old age for a runner. I’ve never been what you’d call a real high-mileage runner. Some people think I should be. But there’s a fine line between knowing what works for each individual. I’ve been able to find what works for me. I don’t go overboard. The most I’ve done in one week is 136 miles. I would try to get to 150 but I could never stay healthy at that level. It would be nice to get to 150, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to do that at this stage in my career. If I can stay at 115 to 130, I’ll be very satisfied with that.
I do at my age have to pay attention to the little things. I have to be smart. I do ice baths regularly, and massages. Sometimes I stretch three or four times a day. I’m always doing something that could make me better, whether it’s more core exercises or more stretching. I really don’t rest until I go to bed.
Eritrea was a special place, but it was a challenge to survive. My parents wanted something better for their kids and their future.
I’ve been very fortunate to have 25 years now in theU.S. I try to be a good citizen. Not just when I run, representing theU.S. But every day when I wake up, I try to be a good citizen.
It means a lot to be a citizen. I learned about the history. It means a lot to have the freedom to speak your mind. I get teary-eyed when I hear the national anthem before a race and I think of what the words mean and what we have here.