Alberto Salazar should be the happiest coach in the world today, considering his top 2 athletes are now the top two 10,000m runners in the world.
Both Mo Farah‘s gold and Galen Rupp’s silver will forever go down in history, not only the history of the athletes, but that of their respective countries as well. Farah is officially the first British athlete to ever win gold in the 25 lap race, and Rupp is the first American to medal in the 10k since Billy Mills won the 1964 gold.
In an event historically dominated by African runners, Farah’s win marks the first victory by an athlete representing a non-African country since 1984, when Alberto Cova of Italy was the victor.
Farah’s victory in front of his home crowd was truly a spectacular sight to witness. The 80,000 fans in attendance went absolutely crazy when Farah made his move at the start of the final lap, and the noise was deafening when he was able to out-sprint the field and cross the line in first. The pure jubilation Farah showed as soon as he finished, running around in disbelief, with tears streaming down his face, and embraces for both his training partner and his daughter, is a perfect representation of why we love the Olympics. After a disappointing 2008, where Farah failed to make the finals in the 5,000m, he redeemed himself today in the utmost form: a gold medal in his home country.
Rupp’s performance is no less extraordinary, as in the history of the Olympics, only 2 other Americans have won a 10,000m medal. The former University of Oregon standout has had an impressive burst onto the international scene, setting American records in the 10,000m and the indoor 2-mile, but those accomplishments pale in comparison to what he did today.
Expectations have been sky-high for Rupp his whole career, and they were increased even more after he finished 13th in this event in Beijing, but prior to him actually winning a medal today, I would have said there was only a fool’s hope that he would make the podium. Thankfully, Rupp proved me wrong.
Farah and Rupp spent the months leading up to this year’s Olympics training together in Oregon, under Coach Alberto Salazar. The benefits of this familiarity were obvious, as the pair worked together for most of the race, staying in solid position and using each other to reduce the effort of today’s grueling race.
Farah was pushed around a bit in the earlier parts of the race, but as the field started to spread out, he was able to put himself in the perfect position to sprint free for his final kick. Rupp had shown his closing speed at the U.S. trials where he ran his last lap in a blistering 52 seconds, but was unable to secure as good of a position as Farah did.
It looked as if he was boxed in with about 300m to go, and American fans everywhere sat with collectively bated breath, waiting to see if he could break through and find room for a final sprint to snag a medal. He found a gap and more, opening up in the last 150m to pass Tariku Bekele of Ethiopia and secure the fact that he will forever be known as an Olympic medalist.
Farah and Rupp will both be racing again later this week in the 5,000m but honestly, it can’t get much better than what they did today. Farah and Rupp have brought new life to distance running of the western world, and we can only hope that this helps fuel more athletes to international greatness.
Mo Farah and Galen Rupp, congratulations on forever being a part of Olympic History.