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Late Surge For The Podium
With five kilometers remaining, Meb Keflezighi found out his position for the first time. Coach Bob Larsen held up six fingers. Those six fingers would figuratively push Keflezighi all the way through the final 3.1 miles.
“Bob gave me the fingers, and after that I got another energy and wanted to get fourth place eventually,” said Keflezighi, his famous smile shining under a PowerBar cap. Keflezighi gunned for fourth in case, for any reason, something happened to one of the front-runners: Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich and Kenyans Kirui and Wilson Kipsang.
“I wanted to be the person to move up on the medal stand,” he said.
After making up two spots in the last two kilometers, Keflezighi took the final turn onto The Mall and grabbed an American flag. The ageless wonder had mustered a top-four finish despite all his setbacks and troubles. His final time of 2:11:06 was very good considering the rhythm-breaking and turn filled nature of the London course.
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“I feel like those guys are legit and did very well,” he said, paying homage to medalists Kiprotich, Kirui, and Kipsang. “If I was 100 percent perfect [in] training, nothing going wrong, I think I could have been on the podium. But I wasn’t. And I give credit to those guys for great races that day because we athletes train real hard and do the best that we can. Everything has to come together for you, and for me I was struggling and finished fourth in the world. I’ll take it any time.”
Looking back a year later, Keflezighi’s remembers the feeling of success after overcoming the wall at halfway, going on to place fourth — the highest placing of any American marathoner, male or female, at the 2012 Olympics.
“It was tough but I persevered. Usually when you hit a wall, you falter back in the marathon and never recover and gain. Very few people can do it and I’m honored to do it and represent our country because I know I can, and I finished fourth,” he said.
That mental drive may just carry Keflezighi on to Rio de Janeiro in 2016.