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Keflezighi 4th in marathon

Meb Keflezighi - London 2012

Meb Keflezighi – London 2012

LONDON – Eight years after his Olympic silver, Meb Keflezighi (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.) returned to the Olympic marathon at the age of 37 to finish in fourth place in 2:11:06 under hot and humid conditions on the streets of London.

Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda brought home his country’s first medal of the London Games and only their third athletics medal of all time as he won gold in 2:08:01. He was followed by Abel Kirui in 2:08:27 and Wilson Kipsang in 2:09:37, both of Kenya.

It was an unfortunate day for Ryan Hall (Flagstaff, Ariz.) and Abdi Abdirahman (Tucson, Ariz.) who succumbed to injuries mid-way through the race and stepped off the course around 18km. Hall withdrew after the first large loop and moments later Abdirahman also called it a day. Abdirahman ran with the lead pack for the first 5km before fading to 29th at the 15km mark.  Hall found himself running in no-mans-land by the 10km split where he stood in 38th place before fading back to 50th place at 15km.

A large pack ran together through 12km, with Keflezighi and Abdirahman appearing at the front of the pack for much of the race. Frank DeAlmeida of Brazil surged ahead wildly at 6km, but the pack ignored his surge and eventually he faded to rejoin the group after 10km.

The race began to develop in earnest at the 12km mark when Kipsang made a decisive move to the front, and quickly developed a 16-second lead over the chase pack. Kipsang held onto the lead for 14km before Kirui and Kiprotich reeled him in.

With three runners chasing the lead pack individually, Keflezighi was able to run with a pack of eight men who were just two minutes behind the lead at the 30km mark. Over the next 5km, Keflezighi increased his pace, pulled away from the chase pack and set his sights on picking off the lone athletes separating him from the podium. During the final two miles of the race, Keflezighi passed both Marilson Dos Santos of Brazil and Kentaro Nakamoto of Japan to secure his fourth place finish.

Keflezighi’s performance is the best by an American since his 2004 silver medal in 2:11.29.

Athlete Quotes

Meb Keflezighi: “Coming here I told my wife, ‘I have a feeling I’m going to finish fourth.’ Did I want to finish fourth – no. But at the World or Olympic games I’ll take it, especially considering that I did not make the Olympics [in 2008]. I 2004, to be a silver medalist, I know how that feels, so I congratulate those people who finished first, second and third. Everybody works hard to accomplish such a thing and I am very proud of myself and our country to finish fourth. It’s not where you want to be sometimes, but fourth place at my last Olympics – I’ll take it anytime.”

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