Meb Keflezighi at the 2016 Olympic Team Trials
|Born||May 5, 1975|
|Residence||San Diego, California|
|Height||5 ft 5 in (165 cm)|
|Weight||127 lb (58 kg)|
|Event(s)||Marathon, 10000 m|
|College team||UCLA Bruins|
|Club||New York Athletic Club|
|Coached by||Bob Larsen|
|Achievements and titles|
|World finals||2001, 10000 m 23rd |
2003, 10000 m, 16th
|National finals||NCAA cross-country |
NCAA 10,000 m (outdoors)
NCAA 5,000 m (indoors)
NCAA 5,000 m (outdoors)
|Olympic finals||2000 10000 m, 12th, |
2004 Marathon Silver,
2012 Marathon, 4th,
2016 Marathon, 33rd
|Personal best(s)||1500 meters: 3:42.29 |
5000 meters: 13:11.77
10,000 meters: 27:13.98
Mebrahtom "Meb" Keflezighi (/
Early life and education
Meb was born in Eritrea on May 5, 1975, the third son of Russom and Awetash Keflezighi. At the time, Eritrea was embroiled in an often-brutal 30-year war for liberation from Ethiopia (Eritrea finally achieved independence in 1993), and Russom was a liberation supporter. This meant that he sometimes had to leave his home in Adi Beyani to escape Ethiopian soldiers and their brutal massacres. Meb recalls that his childhood included regular encounters with death and dismemberment of his Eritrean friends and neighbors. He didn't see a car until he was 10 yrs old. Thinking it was a death machine, he took flight. "That was one of the races I lost," he once told the New York Times. Awetash feared that her husband would be killed, and eventually convinced him to flee Ethiopia for a better life. He ended up in Milan, Italy, for 5 yrs, sending money home until he could afford to bring the family to Italy. That reunion took place in 1986, and afforded Meb his first chance to watch TV. He couldn't figure out how the actors got inside the small box.
A year later, the Keflezighis moved to San Diego, arriving on October 21, 1987, and eventually settling into a 3-bedroom apartment that now held 8 family members, including the 6 children. Eventually, the Keflezighis would have 10 children. Russom worked as many jobs as he could find, but insisted that his children focus their attention on schoolwork. Meb began running while a student at Memorial Academy in San Diego, where he ran a 5:10 mile before going on to win both the 1600 meters and 3200 meters at the CIF California State Championships in 1994 for San Diego High School. Keflezighi became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1998 – the same year in which he graduated from UCLA. While at UCLA Keflezighi received numerous All-American awards and other accolades. He won four NCAA championships (the 5k and 10k outdoor and 5 k indoor) during the 1996–97 season, including the cross-country title, spanning from the track and field season in the spring to the cross country season in the fall.
His fastest times for some standard distances are 3:42.29 for 1500 m, set in 1998; 13:11.77 for 5000 m, set in 2000; 27:13.98 for 10,000 m, set in 2001 (an American record which stood until 2010); and 2:08:37 for the marathon, set at the 2014 Boston Marathon.
On October 11, 2010, he released his autobiography, Run to Overcome, which was published by Tyndale House Publishers. The book, co-authored with noted sports writer Dick Patrick, included recollections about major milestones in his life, such as his Olympic competitions and other running highlights, as well as his early years, leading up to the present day. He is also the driving force behind the MEB Foundation, the "MEB" standing for "Maintaining Excellent Balance," which principally promotes healthy living, and other positive lifestyle choices and motivation for school-age youth.
Despite his success, Keflezighi's sponsor Nike did not renew his long-running contract in 2011. As a result, Keflezighi competed as an unsponsored athlete. In December 2011, Keflezhigi was signed up by sportswear company Skechers, whom he has represented since. In 2013, Keflezighi signed with elliptical cycling company ElliptiGO. Other current sponsors in 2014 include PowerBar, Sony, Oakley, Inc., Garmin, USANA Health Sciences, Generation UCAN, CEP Compression, New York Athletic Club, and KRAVE Jerky.
On April 21, 2014, Meb became the first American man to win the Boston Marathon since 1983, besting many of the heavy African favorites in a new personal best of 2:08:37. With this victory, Meb became the only Marathoner in history to win the Boston Marathon, the New York City Marathon, and an Olympic Medal.
- In the 2004 Summer Olympics, Keflezighi finished second in the men's marathon, winning a silver medal in a personal season's best time of 2 hours, 11 minutes and 29 seconds. He finished 42 seconds ahead of Brazilian Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima, who was leading the marathon until being pushed off the course by protester Neil Horan. This was the first medal won by an American man in the Olympic marathon since Frank Shorter won the gold in the 1972 Summer Olympics and took the silver medal in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
- Keflezighi broke his hip during the 2008 U.S. Olympic Marathon trials in Central Park. He finished in eighth place and did not qualify for the team. During the race, his friend and training partner Ryan Shay died of a heart attack.
- He won the 2009 New York City Marathon, setting a personal best of 2:09:15. Keflezighi was the first American to win the marathon since 1982.
- On April 19, 2010 he ran his third fastest time of 2:09:26 while finishing 5th in the 114th Boston Marathon, despite training at half his usual mileage with a knee injury. He ran with the leaders for much of the race, before slowing at the finish.
- He ran the San Jose Half Marathon as part of his preparation towards a New York title defense and he comfortably won by a margin of three minutes, finishing in 1:01:45.
- He ran a PR in the 2010 New York Marathon of 2:09:13, placing sixth place and the first U.S. finisher.
- On January 14, 2012, he won the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trial in Houston with a time of 2:09:08, which was a new personal best by 5 seconds. He is the oldest winner of the Olympic Trials Marathon at age 36.
- On August 12, 2012, Keflezighi finished fourth in the 2012 Summer Olympics Marathon with a time of 2:11:06.
- On June 22, 2013, Keflezighi finished second in the US Half marathon Championships held around Duluth, Minnesota in 1:01:22.
- On January 19, Meb won the USA Half Marathon Championships in a time of 1:01:23.
- On April 21, he won the 2014 Boston Marathon, the first American male to do so since 1983, and first American since 1985, with an official time of 2:08:37. The race was two weeks before his 39th birthday, making him the oldest winner of the Boston Marathon since at least 1930.
- On July 4, he ran in the Kilometer Kids Charity Chase, a part of the AJC Peachtree Road Race, in order to raise funds for the Atlanta Track Club's youth running program.
- On November 2, Meb finished 4th in 2:13:20 at the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon.
- At the end of the season USATF selected his Boston victory as the Inspirational Performance of the Year. Later at the same ceremony, he was selected as the winner of the 2014 Jesse Owens Award.
- On April 20, he came in eighth place in the 2015 Boston Marathon, crossing the finish line hand-in-hand with elite female runner Hilary Dionne.
- In May 2015, Keflezighi marked his Masters debut with a 1:02:29 at the Suja Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Half Marathon, which also served as the U.S. Masters National Championships. His time earned him the national title, and a second place overall finish.
- On November 1, he came in seventh place in the 2015 TCS NYC Marathon with an official time of 2:13:32; beating the former U.S. Masters Record by 20 seconds.
- On 13 February 2016, Meb placed second at the US Olympic Marathon Trials, finishing in 2:12:20, one minute behind Galen Rupp, on a warm day in Los Angeles.
- On August 21, 2016, Keflezighi finished 33rd in the 2016 Summer Olympics Marathon with a time of 2:16:46 after dealing with stomach problems in the second half of the race and stopping 7 times. He slipped right before the finish line but turned it into push ups.
Keflezighi uses nine-day training cycles instead of traditional training weeks, a tactic he learned while visiting his life mentor James T Stinson (aka silver dollar marathons) on the Maine South High School Track, which he says allows him to concentrate on training while also allowing himself to recover. His training is composed of tempo runs, intervals, long runs and cross-training. In the weeks leading up to the 2014 Boston Marathon, he ran 2–3 times a day, and used his ElliptiGO for 10–20 mile cross-training rides to avoid injuries. Additionally, he tries to keep himself healthy with daily core-strengthening exercises, stretching, altitude training, tune-up races, and a high-protein diet with 5 servings of fruit.
- In 2011, Sony released a special-edition Meb Keflezighi 2GB W Series Walkman MP3 Player. It came pre-loaded with audio tips, along with a booklet containing tips on running, nutrition, stretching and more. The product is now discontinued.
- On October 15, 2013, Skechers debuted the limited-edition GOmeb line of athletic shoes, which features the official shoe of Keflezighi, the GOrun Speed. The line commemorates his wins in both the 2009 New York City Marathon and 2014 Boston Marathon.
- On July 2, 2014, a limited-edition 'Meb 8S' ElliptiGO was released to commemorate his 2014 Boston Marathon victory. The bike features his motto "Run To Win" and his signature, along with a patriotic-themed paint job.
Keflezighi is represented by his brother Merhawi, who as a UCLA undergraduate was a student manager for the Bruin men's basketball team (head student manager in 2001–02) and is a 2006 graduate of the UCLA School of Law. Meb and his wife Yordanos married in November 2004 and have three daughters: Sara; Fiyori; and Yohana.
Keflezighi was recognized as an Outstanding American by Choice by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in 2017.
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- "2017 Outstanding American by Choice Recipients". United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
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