Galen Rupp: US Olympic Distance Runner Faces Tall Order to Match 10,000M Riches

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Galen Rupp: US Olympic Distance Runner Faces Tall Order to Match 10,000M Riches
Lars Baron/Getty Images

Galen Rupp shocked the world when he finished in second place in the men's 10,000-meter on Saturday, August 4. On the eve of the 5,000-meter, does he have enough left in the tank to do it again?

That's a major concern, even with one full week between races—especially considering the incredible collection of talented African runners who will be fighting tooth and nail to win this upcoming race. 

With that in mind, I have a few concerns about how realistic it is to expect great things from Rupp in his upcoming 5,000-meter showdown with the top long-distance runners in the world.

History Is Not in Rupp's Favor

When Rupp finished in second place in the 10,000-meter, it was the first time since 1964 that an American runner had medaled in that event. 1964 was also the last year than any American man medaled in the 5,000-meter. 

The same man did not earn both of those medals. Bob Schull won the gold in the 5,000-meter, and Bob Dellinger won the bronze in the same event. Billy Mills was the man that won the 10,000-meter that year, and no other Americans medaled in that race.

I point this out to prove that it's insanely difficult for runners to duplicate a gold-medal-winning performance in two long-distance runs in the same Olympics, and to prove that Americans haven't been a power in distance running since the 1960s. 

Personal Bests

Stu Forster/Getty Images

Moving back to the present, let's talk for a moment about how Rupp stacks up against the top 5,000-meter runners he'll be facing on Saturday, August 11. If Rupp hopes to medal on Saturday, he'll likely have to be much faster than he's ever been before at this distance.

He's not even close to the top runners in terms of personal-best times, and to prove it, I'm going to chart out his best career time compared to the top five runners in the race on Saturday, courtesy of

Rank Runner Nation Career-Best Time
1 Dejen Gebremeskel
Ethiopia 12:46.81
2 Hagos Gebrhiwet Ethiopia 12:47.53
3 Isiah Kiplangat Koech Kenya 12:48.64
4 Yenew Alamirew Ethiopia 12:48.77
5 Thomas Pkemei Longosiwa Kenya 12:49.04
6 Mo Farah Great Britain 12:53.11
7 Bernard Lagat USA 12:53.60
8 Galen Rupp USA 12:58.90

It's important to note that every single runner on this list except for Farah has posted their career-best time in 2012. They have all been getting better leading up to the 2012 Olympic Games.

It's clear from the chart that Rupp is going to need a miraculous run to come close to medaling, and he'll likely need a few of the top runners to somehow tank, as well. 

Bottom Line

As shocking as it was to see Rupp win a silver medal in the 10,000-meter, it probably shouldn't have been. The only reason it was a shock was due to the fact that Americans had previously struck out in long-distance races for the better part of 50 years. 

Does Rupp have a chance to shock the world a second time in the men's 5,000-meter final?

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Rupp didn't even come close to equaling his personal-best time in that race, as his 27-minute, 30.90-second performance in that race was well short of the 26:48.00 time he posted in 2011 to break the American Record. 

History is against him, his competition is far superior and the bottom line is that Rupp just isn't as good in the 5,000-meter as he is in the 10,000-meter. 

Lighting isn't going to strike twice. Rupp has already accomplished what he could in 2012, and he isn't going to come close to beating the Ethiopians and Kenyans on Saturday.

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