2012 USA Olympic Team Trials Marathon -
photo: Victah Sailer/PhotoRun
Meb looks to add to his Olympic resume
By Sharon Ekstrom
The USA is the only country that uses a single race to select its Marathon team for the Olympics and for the first time in history the USA chose to use a single venue and single day - Houston, TX on Saturday, January 14, 2012 - to stage two races to select both the men's and women's teams for the Olympics. According to varying criteria for the men and women, any athlete who had run faster than the "qualifying standards" is qualified to participate in the Olympic Trials Marathon and by the deadline 161 men and 226 women had qualified. Of course not everyone who can run a certain time at a distance is really planning to run the marathon - especially as fast 10,000m specialists would be "qualified" - so after the dust had settled; more than 300 athletes, 112 men and 194 women, had declared their intent to participate in the Olympic Trials Marathon, a record number.
For 2012, the races would be held on a one-time use course designed to simulate what the athletes might find in London: a flat course consisting of a short lap and three longer laps with a couple of u-turns thrown in for good measure. The idea being that those who would do well on this course would do well on the similar London Olympics course. In attendance would be many past Olympians as well as a whole slew of new and upcoming talent. For most of the more than 300 athletes, just getting to the Olympic Trials Marathon was the goal, but for a couple of dozen their heads were filled with the possibility of getting a trip to the Olympics from a top three finish.
And while a foot race normally has one winner, there will be six (three men, three women) to emerge from the Houston Trials as "winners," having won the right to represent the USA at the premier running and marathon event held every four years, the Olympic Games to be held in London in August 2012. Some runners will be thinking about winning the race, but really any will be happy with a top 3 finish and trip to the Olympics; that is the goal.
In the history of the Olympics, the USA has brought home 12 medals in the marathon: Thomas Hicks (St. Louis 1904 - gold), Albert Corey (St. Louis 1904 - silver), Arthur Newton (St. Louis 1904 - bronze), Johnny Hayes (London 1908 - gold), Joseph Forshaw (London 1908- bronze), Gaston Strobino (Stockholm 1912 - bronze), Clarence DeMar (Paris 1924 - bronze), Frank Shorter (Munich 1972 - gold), Frank Shorter (Montreal 1976 - silver) and Meb Keflezighi (Athens 2004 - silver) For the women's event - Joan Benoit who won the first women's marathon event and set world record while doing it (Los Angeles 1984 - gold) and Deena Kastor (Athens 2004 - bronze). If the USA hopes to improve on that count in 2012, it will have to happen from one of the men or women who will be competing at the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon in Houston.
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