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Runners World Interviews
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Olympic Medalist
Olympic Medalist

Joined: 28 Apr 2002
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Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 8:15 pm    Post subject: Runners World Interviews Reply with quote

Here are two very good interviews with the US medalists in the Marathon:

This is the Meb article that doesn't have a link of its own:


Bell Lap back to top

by Jim Ferstle
I first met Meb Kflezighi several years ago after the first elite invitational meet at Stanford.Meb had run in the last event of the night, a 5K set up to get qualifying times. Meb won the race and got his qualifying time, but the memory that lingers from that event was the scene on the track after everything was over.It was dark and Meb was surrounded by a huge crowd of people.It wasn't fans or autograph seekers, it was his family -- all there to cheer him on and then share in the satisfaction of the accomplishment.

Later I'd learn about the efforts of his father, who escaped from Eritrea and eventually brought his family to the U.S.But, at that point they were merely a large extended family providing support to one who was attempting to develop his athletic talents.Forget the loneliness of the long distance runner -- Meb had a foundation of support than ran deeper than the athletic community.

I next spent time with Meb when he ran his debut marathon in New York City.At that race he charged into the lead coming down First Avenue, his competitive instincts overtaking the virtue of patience in the marathon. He paid the price for running the race like a 10K, but learned a valuable lesson.

When he talked about the race afterward, he was disappointed, but not discouraged by what had happened.He recognized that he'd made a rookie mistake, but it had been one of aggression, not caution.It revealed a characteristic in Meb that seemed in short supply in U.S. distance runners at that time.A desire to push the limits.A belief that he belonged at the top of the sport.Meb wasn't going to settle for just being the best American.He wanted to reach for something higher than that.

That trait exhibited itself again at Stanford this year.Running in the track 10K last spring after having qualified for the Olympic team in the marathon, Meb only needed a fast time; instead he took a shot at his American record.Again, he wasn't running to be the best in the U.S., he was pushing to get closer to the rest of the world.

On Sunday in Athens he took that final step.He won a silver medal in the marathon and is no longer potentially one of the best in the world. He is among the best in the world.

He and Deena Kastor, who won a bronze in the women's marathon, have provided breakthrough performances for the American men and women who wish to emulate them.They didn't do it alone. From the coaches, Bob Larsen and Joe Vigil,to support personnel such as Dave Martin, to the entire Running USA program and all involved in it, the foundation has been laid to support those U.S. athletes who want to excel at distance running.While the two Ks(Kflezighi and Kastor) won medals, many more athletes at these Games benefited from the programs jump started by Basil Honikman and the rest of the Running USA crew, as well as the efforts of those outside that system.Can Carrie Tollefson, Tim Broe, the Culpeppers(Shane and Alan), Dan Browne, Dan Lincoln, Alan Webb, and/or others take inspiration from the marathoners and make their marks in Beijing?

One suspects that neither Meb nor Deena are ready to rest on their Athens laurels.Their careers have been enhanced, not ended, by their performances in Athens.And while one Eritrean American family has plenty to celebrate now, it will not be the last family celebration of athletic accomplishments.

Jim Ferstle is a freelance writer from St. Paul, Minnesota.


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