Runner Meb Keflezighi Looks Forward To The Olympics

This article is more than 7 years old.
Runner Meb Keflezighi at a recent stop in Boston. (Alex Ashlock/Here & Now)
Runner Meb Keflezighi at a recent stop in Boston. (Alex Ashlock/Here & Now)

By: Alex Ashlock

36-year-old Meb Keflezighi is headed to the Olympics for the third time. Last month in Houston he won the US Olympic Marathon Trials race, so he will lead the team the US sends to London in August. Visiting Boston recently, Keflezighi reflected on his life and his long running career, which includes a silver medal, second-place finish in the Olympic marathon in Athens in 2004.

"Athens is a special place for me," Keflezighi said. "That's where I met my dad after 5 years of separation. He was in Italy. I didn't see him or communicate with him for 5 years."

Keflezighi was born in Eritrea in 1975. His father Russom supported rebels in that country who were fighting for independence, but fearing for his safety, he was forced to flee the country when Meb was just 5 years-old. Russom walked more than a hundred miles to the border of neighboring Sudan and eventually worked his way to Italy. He was able to bring his family to Greece when Meb was 10. Eventually the family immigrated to the US, moving to San Diego in 1987. They spoke no English. Today they are American citizens.

Russom Keflezighi, the proud father of Meb. (Alex Ashlock/Here & Now)
Russom Keflezighi, the proud father of Meb. (Alex Ashlock/Here & Now)

"To be an American is huge," he said. "It's the land of opportunity and it shows that hard work can pay off. My brothers and sisters have done very well and we hope to be good citizens at the end of the day. My running has done great things for me, and it gives me a lot of pride to be an American and represent my country in a positive way."

At the Olympic Trials in Houston last month, Russom Keflezighi greeted his son at the finish line, and lifted Meb up on his shoulders.

"My dad is a very strong man for someone who's 74," he said. "He has a phenomenal story, the obstacles he went through."

Obstacles, he and his son and their family have overcome.

This program aired on February 21, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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