Olympic Track 2012: Galen Rupp Signals Hope for U.S. Distance Running

Jesse Reed@@JesseReed78Correspondent IAugust 4, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04:  Galen Rupp of the United States celebrates after winning silver in the  Men's 10,000m Final on Day 8 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 4, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Lars Baron/Getty Images

Galen Rupp. He's the American track and field hero you've never heard of, but if you watch the 2012 Olympic Games, you'll get to know him well.

Rupp broke a 48-year drought on Saturday by finishing in second place behind Great Britain's Mo Farrah in the men's 10,000-meter. The last time a U.S. athlete won a medal in this event was way back in 1964. 

Since that time, there have only been two American runners to even crack the top 10: Todd Williams finished in 10th place in 1992, and Abdihakem Abdirahman finished in seventh place in 2000. 

Wait, you mean I can finally hope to root for an American distance runner who might win?

In my lifetime, I've never had any interest in watching distance running, because there hasn't been anyone to really root for on the American teams. I'm guessing that if you're an American like me, you haven't paid much attention to these races, either. Unless, of course, you're a track-and-field enthusiast.

To put this in perspective, Rupp's achievement would be the equivalent to the U.S. men's soccer team winning the silver medal at the Olympics. Heck, our boys didn't even make it into the Games this year, they're so bad. 

But that's how big this is. 

Rupp isn't done yet, either. He still has the 5,000-meter in front of him. His journey for a medal in that race begins on Wednesday, August 8. 

Rupp isn't even the best American who will be competing in that race. He's somewhere in the middle of the pack. All the more reason to tune in to see how well the Americans do in that race. If he's only in the middle of the pack, imagine how much better the top guys in that group will be. 

African countries like Ethiopia and Kenya have had a stranglehold over these events for a while now. American runners haven't been able to compete. But, something's changed this time around. Perhaps American coaches have finally figured out the key to proper long-distance training. 

Whatever it is, the Americans are suddenly relevant in distance running, once again. Stay tuned to find out how our boys do later on this week.