With three medal-worthy marathoners, the U.S. men's marathoners look to make up for the lack of medals from the women’s side.
Runners Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezighi and Abdi Abdirahman all have viable chances at finishing high, as the marathon tends to be an anything-goes competition. Their qualifying times do not rank with five of the six Kenyan and Ethiopan marathoners in the field, however.
The 2009 New York marathon champion and three-time Olympian, Keflezighi is the United States’s most heralded runner in the field. Those medals, though, come with a price at this year’s games: he is 37 years old and fighting critics who say his best days may be behind him.
Keflezighi knows how instrumental a strong marathon can be for his legacy:
“Times, if it comes, it comes. If it doesn't come, you can't hang a 2:03 or 2:05 or 2:07 on your neck. Hardware you can.” Via the Examiner.
Hall is the only U.S. marathoner under 30 and owns the team’s best marathon time, a sub 2:05 marathon from Boston last year. Unfortunately, due to course restrictions, the time could not be made an official American record. He certainly has the ability to place towards the top, reinforced by top-five finishes in London and Boston, among others.
In 2008, Hall could only muster a 10th place finish; however, many runners had trouble with the humidity on that day four years ago.
Known for his prowess in the 10,000 meters, Abdirahman holds five U.S. championships at the distance. The Olympics are a long time for the first-time Olympic marathoner, who had to drop out of qualifying in 2008 due to a hip injury.
At 35, Abdirahman will attempt to defy critics and use his 10,000 meter approach toward a marathon medal. Along with Keflezighi, both have three Olympic appearances to their names, respectively.
The women’s marathon runners could only muster 10th and 11th place finishes on Day 9, not including one drop-out during the race. Their best chance came from Salene Flanagan, the bronze-medalist in Beijing’s 10,000 meters; she would finish 12 seconds behind the winner Tiki Gelana, who posted a world-record time.
Despite being underdogs, the men have as good a chance as any to break the trend of Kenyan and Ethiopian marathon dominance. One race can change the narrative.