Olympic Track & Field 2012: US Marathon Runners Still Have Long Way to Go

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Olympic Track & Field 2012: US Marathon Runners Still Have Long Way to Go
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The United States still has a lot of distance to make up in the marathon.

At the 2012 Summer Olympics, three of America's six competitors failed to finish, and those who did failed to medal. Then again, this is the marathon so it's not surprising to see a number of Olympians not finish.

However, the marathon is also an event where the USA has won just two medals dating back to 1988. And both those medals came during the 2004 Athens Games (Mebrahtom Keflezighi, silver and Deena Kastor, bronze).

To that end, let's take a quick look at why the U.S. still has plenty of work to do in the marathon.

 

London Olympics Performance

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As previously mentioned, half of USA's marathoners failed to finish in 2012.

Ryan Hall, who took 10th place in the marathon at the Beijing Games, lasted just 46 minutes and 57 seconds through 15 kilometers. Abdihakem Abdirahman also didn't finish as he lasted just 46:08. Both bowed out early because of an injury, per USA Today.

On the women's side, Desiree Davila wasn't able to complete the race because of an injury, per Elliot Almond of the Mercury News. This comes as a surprise, especially since she was second at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Now, Meb Keflezighi did finish fourth place with a time of 2:11:06, but he is also 37 years old. So it would take a lot for him to repeat this performance at age 41 in Rio. For the women, Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher finished 10th and 11th, respectively.

It was certainly a stronger all-around performance for those that finished, but remaining two or three minutes from the top spot is evidence that everyone still has a lot of ground to make up.


More Youth is Needed

Of the six marathoners for the United States, only two—Ryan Hall and Desiree Davila—are under age 30 (both are 29). Fourth-place finisher Meb Keflezighi, as previously mentioned, is 37, and Abdirahman is 35.

Flanagan and Goucher are 31 and 34, respectively, so time is of the essence for them as well. Looking at the medalists for men and women, no one was over age 30. The two gold medalists—Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda (23) and Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia (24)—are much younger.

The USA needs young runners in their late teens or early 20s to start developing into the marathon right now. Hall was that man during the Beijing Olympics at age 25, but even he only took 10th. Provided the U.S. finds a runner who can compete at age 22 or 23 for the Rio Games, then a medal opportunity will be more evident in 2016 and 2020.

 

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