Elliott Denman focused on Galen Rupp, the young man who has grown up in front of us. Rupp was a very good high school runner who blossomed at the University of Oregon. Over the last three years, Galen Rupp has continued to become a player on the global stage.
And after this spring, Elliott Denman dares to speculate: is Galen Rupp a potential medalist in London? Read what he has to say!
by ELLIOTT DENMAN
Is Galen Rupp ready for London?
For prime time?
For taking on the Kenyans and Ethiopians, and the world?
You have to believe the answer is “yes.”
Sure the home turf of Hayward Field posed a huge advantage, and sure there was no one in the Olympic Trials 10,000-meter field Friday who could hang with him to the wire, and sure there are some who still consider this babyfaced 25-year-old a child in a man’s game, but sure as anything you’ll see at these Trials, this is an athlete ready to take on the world.
Winning the 25-lapper in London may be too much to ask, but the acquisition of a medal surely isn’t.
The kid is really, truly coming of age.
It pelted down heavy rain for over eight laps, then the elements relented into a mere drenching.
No matter. Nothing really matters in Galen Rupp’s future other than being invited onto the London medal stand.
His 27:25.33 smashed the Olympic Trials record. It seemed a breeze. He ran a 26:48 last year in Brussels.
Is it foolishness to say that East Africa has cause for concern?
Maybe-just-maybe, it’s not foolishness at all.
Four years ago, the Portlander ran 13th in the Beijing 10,000.
Call it a heck of a learning experience.
He called his Friday night triumph nothing but “getting the job done.”
He called blasting away from Matt Tegenkamp (27:33.94) and Dathan Ritzenhein (27:36.09) over the last lap to win in 27:25.33 just what he knew he could do and what he expected to do, and what every last rainsoaked Hayward Field-goer counted on.
“Heck, I grew up around here,” he said. “I know what Oregon’s like. It is what it is.”
The (announced) Hayward crowd of over 20,000?
“They’re great. They understand track. They know what’s happening.
“And the support they (or most of them) give me, I couldn’t ask for a better situation.”
Nike support is making this grand eight-day Trials spectacle something very special. And is giving Galen Rupp and coach Alberto Salazar every possible edge.
Thank you, Mr. Phil Knight & Co.
But if you’re not a Swoosh person, that doesn’t mean you’re persona non grata on these premises.
Runner-up Tegenkamp reveled in the rain.
“I’m from the Midwest,” said the 30-year-old Wisconsin grad. “My summers were all heat and humidity. Believe me, rain’s a whole lot easier to take.”
There was a different kind of joy in all this for third-placer “Ritz,” 29.
Frustration of all frustrations, he was fourth in January’s Olympic Trials marathon in Houston, cruel and unusual punishment for a guy who’s spent much of his adulthood chasing long-run ambitions.
“That was heartbreaking for me,” he confessed.
“But in a sense,maybe it helped me today.
“I knew I couldn’t handle that kind of pain again. I wasn’t going to let it happen.”
No way. No how. Four is his impossible number.
Thus, as he gutted out the final meters, the satisfaction of it all explained that smile of all smiles.
“Ritz” ran ninth in the Beijing ’08 marathon but, running on a bad leg, DNFed the ’04 Olympic 10,000 at Athens.
Rupp comes back to run the 5,000 at Hayward (trials Monday, final Thursday.)
He’s not really in Bernard Lagat’s class over those 12 Â½ laps. Especially that final half-lap But the chase will surely provide one more huge Hayward highlight.
Just one American has ever won the Olympic 10,000 meters.
Billy Mills at Tokyo in 1964. Of course, of course.
And just one other USAer has ever medaled in the 10,000.
Even the hardest-core track fans have trouble identifying this man – Native American Lewis Tewanima at Stockholm in 1912.
Is Galen Rupp destined to be number three?
Will he, can he possibly?
For now, call him a definite maybe.