You have to say, it's an American story. The winner of the men's Olympic Trials marathon race Saturday was 36-year-old Meb Keflezighi, whose father brought the family from Eritrea to the US when Meb was just a kid. Now, his son will lead the American team in the marathon at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. At the finish line, 74-year-old Russom Keflezighi picked up his son and put him on his shoulders to celebrate.
"Our wish is to win in the Olympics, that's a day that is like this to Meb," he told me right after the celebration. "I'm proud of my son. The sport is up and down. Three friends came first, second and third. They are happy."
The three friends are Meb Keflezighi, who won, Ryan Hall who finished second and Abdi Abdirahman, who finished third. They're all headed to London. Keflezighi's winning time was 2:09:08. Hall ran 2:09:30. It's the first time two men have run under 2:10 in the trials. The men's race was fast from the start with Hall running a 4:52 first mile. Hall said this race was good preparation for what the race in London will be like. "There will be a lot of 2:03 marathoners there," he said. "When we run in the games, there will be amazing athletes there. What it will take to win is running a race like today, go early commit to the pace and then it's a war of attrition."
Shalane Flanagan won the women's race in 2:25:38. The other qualifiers on the women's side were Desiree Davila and Kara Goucher. The women's race was more tactical, until Davila starting pushing the pace late. That may have cost her because Flanagan sped away to win. Her time, 2:25:38 was more than 3 minutes faster than her previous best marathon. "This a huge day, one that all of us will remember," she said.
This was the first time the marathon trials have been held for the men and women on the same course on the same day. The men's qualifiers reflected on the 2008 race, which was held in New York, when Ryan Shay, collapsed and died on the course. "I thought about him today," said Keflezighi. "But he would have proud of us. You don't take life for granted."
This article was originally published on January 13, 2012.
This program aired on January 13, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.