Galen Rupp finished third in the Olympic marathon on Sunday from Rio, crossing the finish line in 2:10.05. The bronze medal marks the first time since Meb Keflezighi in 2004 that an American finishes with a medal in the event.
For Rupp, the result is especially impressive considering that this was just the second marathon of his career.
Since his time as a collegiate runner at the University of Oregon, Rupp had only run middle distance events on the track. He’d run the well, to be sure: In London, he won silver in the 10,000 meters, and in Rio he finished fifth despite training primarily for the marathon.
Ahead of the Games, Rupp decided to transition from the 5,000m and 10,000m to the marathon. His first marathon, then, was at the US Olympic Trials, which he won to book himself a place at the starting line in Brazil.
On a wet Sunday in Rio, Rupp looked impressive from start to finish, running away from the field with Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya and Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia, who went on to win gold and silver, respectively.
Still, that Rupp was able to hang on for the bronze in just his second marathon is nothing short of an unbelievable accomplishment.
Afterwards, Kipchoge — the best in the world at 26.2 miles — said he felt Rupp might soon break the world record in the marathon. That’s high praise!
Rupp, for his part, had none other than Adam Sandler to thank for his performance.
“I was watching Happy Gilmore the other day,” Rupp told NBC’s Lewis Johnson at the finish line, according to Yahoo. “He fights being a golfer for a while, saying he’s a hockey player. I fought being a marathoner and wanted to run on the track, but maybe this is my best event.”
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