(PHOTO) Mohamed Farah (GBR), right, beats Galen Rupp (USA), left, to the finish lin in the men's 10,000m final during the 2012 London Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Placing second in 27:30.90, Rupp (Portland, Ore.) became just the third U.S. man ever to win an Olympic medal in the event, after Mills’ gold and a silver by Lewis Tewanina in 1912. It was also the fastest time ever by an American at the Games. Rupp’s training partner, world champion Mo Farah of Great Britain, won in 27:30.42 to give coach Alberto Salazar a 1-2 punch of his own.
It was 25 laps of pure drama - part NASCAR, part roller-derby as speed and tactics melded. Six laps into the race, Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea stretched out the pack, with the leaders including Moses Kiprop of Kenya and Tariku and Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia. Rupp ranged from sixth to 10th place, running near Farah as Americans Datahan Ritzenhein (Beaverton, Ore.) and Matt Tegenkamp (Portland, Ore.) strode a few places back.
Until just past the 6,000m mark, Tadese handled most of the leading duties, coming through 5,000m in 14:05.79. From that point, a series of surges kept a pack that included Tadese, Teklemariam Medhin of Eritrea, Tariku Bekele, Kiprop and others.
With 3,200m to go, the race was clearly one of both speed and strategy. Masai, Muchiri, Bekele, Rupp and Kenenisa Bekele were most in the mix. Rupp sat in fourth place with six laps to go, right ahead of Kenenisa Bekele and Farah.
Farah took the lead with four laps left, and the pace ratcheted up as Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia took his turn at the lead. When the sprint was on, Rupp came from fourth to second as he closed on Farah. That left Tariku Bekele in third in 27:31.43 and Kenenisa, one of the greatest runners in history, fourth in 27:32.44. Ritzenhein finished 13th in 27:45.89 and Tegenkamp was 19th in 28:18.26.
“I’m thrilled for Mo," Rupp said of Farah. "It’s unreal. Two training partners coming in first and second. I couldn’t be happier. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him. I’m the lucky one - I get to train with the best middle distance runner in the world.
“I knew if I could be close to Mo in the end good things would happen, so I was just kind of keying off of him, and I saved a little bit for the last 200, last 150, last 100 and even last 50. At this level you are never going to get in the top three if you can’t beat somebody in that last bit. That is something we’ve been working on for years now and it is awesome to see it come through.”