Rupp alongside friend on history-making night
By Ann Killion
LONDON - On the greatest night in British Olympic history - when the Great Britain track team won three gold medals in the space of an hour in front of a huge and thunderous crowd on home soil - a runner from the University of Oregon played a significant role.
Galen Rupp, who won both a Pac-10 championship and a NCAA cross country championship at Oregon, became the first American to medal in the 10,000 meters since Billy Mills in 1964.
He finished on the heels of his training partner Mo Farah, who won gold, sending the pro-British crowd of 80,000 into a deafening spasm of joy. Farah became the first British runner to medal in a race longer than 1500 meters.
But both men said they couldn't have done it without each other. The two men worked together during the grueling race to hold off any surges from the competition. Rupp, 26, calls Farah, 29, his big brother. And Farah looked for Rupp as soon as he finished.
"I knew if I could stay close to Mo," Rupp said, "then good things would probably happen."
Rupp grew up in Portland, where he began training with marathon legend Alberto Salazar as a young runner. Rupp won two state cross country titles in high school and went on to Oregon, where he led the Ducks to two NCAA titles.
He continued to train with Salazar, who started the Nike Oregon Project for distance running. Farah came to Oregon a year ago to train with Salazar, and he and Rupp became close friends and training partners.
Together, on the first major night of track at the London Olympics, they arrived at a stadium ready to explode.
"I was starting to get a little antsy," Rupp said of his feeling mid-race. "I was kind of wondering whether to go. Farah kind of tapped me on the shoulder, like, 'Just relax, everything's fine. We've just got to play it cool right now and save everything for the finish.'"
"That really calmed me down."
They were calm, cool and collected. And they saved it for the finish, kicking together in the final lap, which Farah ran in a blistering 53 seconds.
But Rupp - who will run the 5,000 meters later this week - stayed close to Farah and outdueled everyone but his good friend.
When the sky-shattering roar went up as Farah crossed the line and the big screens showed the finish, Rupp's face was the picture of delight and awe, a huge grin on his face as he realized what they had accomplished. For years, Rupp and Salazar had dreamed of getting an American on the podium of the 10,000, interrupting the monopoly held by the African nations.
But doing it with Farah was even more special.
"To be able to go one-two with my training partner and one of my best friends," Rupp said, "I couldn't be happier."