As these Summer Olympics begin to wind down, and I have seen far less of them then I wish I had for a number of reasons, I know one event will not pass me by – the men’s marathon. Even though, as I mentioned in a previous post, to catch it live I will have to be up at 3 a.m. PST, you can bet your sweet bippy I will be.
I recall writing something somewhere about the men’s marathon in 2008 but I will be damned if I can find it in my archives. Let’s just say I was utterly convinced that Ryan Hall was going to win. Obviously my opinion was shaped by a little bit of homerism but I also laid out a well-thought reasoning as well. As you know, I was way off as Sammy Wanjiru crushed the Olympic Marathon record in stifling Beijing heat and humidity.
So who am I will predicting will podium this year? We have already seen East African dominance fall by the way side in some of the earlier track meets this Olympics. Galen Rupp, with his silver in the 10,000 meter gave the United States its first medal in that event since about 350 BC. (I will have to remember to fact check that.) Then Leo Manzano won a silver medal in the men’s 1,500-meter final, running the fastest time ever by a U.S. athlete at the Games. The 5,000m won’t be run until Saturday so it is hard to tell exactly if this trend will continue but counting Bernard Lagat or Lopez Lomong out would not be wise.
Now, granted a small shift in the medal count in some of the shorter long distance events does not have much bearing on the marathon. Additionally, East African dominance at the Marathon level has really solidified itself in the past four years since Beijing, even with the untimely death of Sammy Wanjiru. I am also far less convinced of the American ability to medal at a these games. Yet for some reason, I think we may have a better shot then we did four years ago.
I have been fortunate enough to have a conversation or two with Ryan Hall, saw Meb at a book signing and I have had one tweet with Abdi Abdirahman. So obviously I am super tight with them all. But knowing anything about these men individually is not why I feel this is our best chance to snag a top spot since Frank Shorter got the gold in Munich 4 years before I was born.
In order to compete well on this stage, competitors who are usually out to best each other, must work together even though they wish to win. I recently read an article by Kenny Moore about those Munich Games and it became even more clear how running alone will get you basically nowhere (Joan Benoit Samuelson’s epic 1984Olympic games win notwithstanding). What I have witnessed from the three US finalists is a tight kinship. I have seen how they really do thrive on working with each other. And while I am less doe-eyed about their chances as I was four years ago, I still think we are in for a major surprise on Sunday.
Gold: Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich (Kenya)
Silver: Ryan Hall (USA)
Bronze: Abel Kirui (Kenya)
I also think the winning time will be in the 2:07s with the race for bronze being tightly contested by Ayele Abshero from Ethiopia.
Either way, though my eyes might be tired at 3 AM, I will be wide awake.