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Galen Rupp Is First Track And Field Athlete To Qualify For Rio At Two Distances

By Karen Rosen | July 01, 2016, 11:54 p.m. (ET)

EUGENE, Ore. – Galen Rupp’s Olympic options are as plentiful as menu choices, but just like restaurant customers he recognizes the best deal.

“I probably have to pick two,” he said.

In February, Rupp qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in the marathon in his very first attempt at the distance. Then on Friday night, Rupp won the 10,000-meter at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Track and Field. And on Monday, he’ll run the first round of the 5,000, another event in which he is a favorite to qualify for the Olympic team.

“Doubling, whether the 10K and marathon or the 10K and 5K, that’s a huge ask,” said Rupp. “To try to do three would be way too much.”

In 1956, Emil Zatopek of Czechoslovakia won gold medals at all three distances, but Rupp would be content with two.

“Now I want to see how my speed is coming along,” Rupp said of the 5,000. “If I run really well, I’m not ruling it out. For sure, I’ll have a decision on my hands. Right now it’s all about rest and recovery and getting ready to come back in a couple of days.”

Rupp came into Hayward Field as the overwhelming favorite in the 10,000-meter.

Not only had he won this event seven straight times, he’s also the 2012 Olympic silver medalist behind training partner Mo Farah of Great Britain.

Rupp made it eight in a row to become the first track and field athlete to punch his ticket twice for Rio. He finished in a time of 27:55.04.

“This was one of the harder ones for sure, if not the hardest,” Rupp said. “This was really tough with the heat, and great competition, too, you saw some really good guys out there really struggle.”

Two Kenyan-Americans who are in the U.S. Army at the specialist rank and represent the World Class Athlete Program made their first Olympic team. Shadrack Kipchirchir, who passed Rupp just before the bell lap – only to see Rupp roar past him with half a lap to go – was second in 28:01.52. Leonard Korir was third in 28:16.97. Both are specialists in the Army.

Galen Rupp celebrates after winning the men's 10,000-meter final at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Track and Field at Hayward Field on July 1, 2016 in Eugene, Ore. 

Rupp, who said having his kids in the crowd made this win “a little extra special for me,” used surges to separate from the pack early and develop a substantial lead. Kirchirchir caught him and stayed on his shoulder before passing him about 40 meters before the final lap.

“I knew it was going to be a real battle to the end,” Rupp said. “A couple of laps to go, I was mentally gearing up for a big finish. I knew I was going to have a real tough last couple of laps on my hands.”

Rupp, whose winning marathon time at the Olympic Trials in Los Angeles was 2:11.12, has had to balance his workload to maintain his speed as well as his stamina.

“It’s been tough,” Rupp said. “Obviously I’ve been doing some longer stuff. If I do run the marathon, we ride a fine line. You’re doing a lot of miles, a lot of long, hard runs it’s hard to recover from and then do the speed work. Sometimes coming back too soon, I’ll just be dead.”

Rupp said he needs to take more easy days between workouts, but said his regimen now is part of the long-term plan he and coach Alberto Salazar mapped out when he was 16 years old.

He said they have incrementally added more to his workload.

“Sitting down with Alberto,” Rupp said, “he said, ‘We’re going to be really smart with you.’ It’s easy to get greedy and try to do too much volume and too much intensity.”

The key was avoiding injury.

Salazar increased the mileage each year, Rupp said, so “my body gradually could get strong enough. He never gave me more than I could handle. Knowing there were guys who could do a lot more than me, the risk of doing that too soon and getting hurt could have been catastrophic for me.”

Olympic medalist Bernard Lagat, 41, dropped out of the 10,000 with about 7 ½ laps to go to conserve his energy for the 5,000, a race in which he traditionally duels Rupp.

“This isn’t his first rodeo,” Rupp said. “He’s such a seasoned veteran. He knows what he’s doing out there and he’s been so consistent over the years. I know he’s going to give it all he has to make this Olympic team. In the 5,000, he’ll be ready to go there. He’s not going out without a fight.”


Earlier in the night, Ryan Crouser won his first national title at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Track and Field with a personal best of 72 feet, 6 ½ inches on his second throw. Reigning world champion Joe Kovacs uncorked a throw of 72-1/4 on his final attempt, while Darrell Hill was the only other thrower over 70 feet with a mark of 70-11 ¾.

Reese Hoffa, the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist was fifth, behind London teammate Ryan Whiting, while 2004 Olympic gold medalist Adam Nelson, who came out of retirement at age 40, was seventh. However, Nelson did get to stand on the victory podium. He originally placed second in Olympia, Greece, 12 years ago, but when the Olympic champion was disqualified for doping, Nelson was moved up. He formally received his medal in an emotional ceremony before the trials began.


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Galen Rupp