Galen Rupp has entered his prime

Some people still don’t believe that an American can win an Olympic medal in a distance race.

We’re not committed enough. The Kenyans are too good. We play too many video games and don’t get enough exercise. The Ethiopians are too good.

Galen Rupp, at 26, is good enough to win a medal this summer. Almost 12 years since he hitched his wagon to Alberto Salazar in one of the all-time kismet unions in U.S. track and field history, Rupp has matured into a global player.

The recent evidence was reaffirmed on Friday in a downpour at Hayward Field. Rupp knew he could run off and win, but the game within the game was to do the pacing work for training partner Dathan Ritzenhein and help him stay on A standard pace.

Once the time-and-distance mathematics was tilted in Ritzenhein’s favor, Rupp took off for a three-lap coronation ceremony in front of an appreciative Hayward Field crowd. Rain didn’t matter. If it can rain in Eugene in June it can rain in London in August.

Rupp began making national teams in 2007 and hasn’t missed one since. He has big-time championship experience. He has records. He has the world’s best training partner in Mo Farah.

So it’s no wonder that when Rupp spoke from the medal stand, after shaking hands with Billy Mills, he talked about how lucky he is.

Yes, a lot of things have been handed to Rupp over the years. But it was Rupp who logged all of those miles and all of those intervals. It was Rupp who spent years sleeping in altitude tents and wearing mask that he knew made him look goofy. Those were serious sacrifices and they all appear to be paying off.

Rupp may continue to get better for a 13th or 14th or 15th straight year, but it’s hard to imagine given how good he is now. Some things could go right or wrong in the course of a race, so there are never any guarantees.

But Rupp is finally ready.


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