- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 3, 2008

Meb Keflezighi is supposed to be training for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

But in the marathon world, things rarely go as planned.

Keflezighi, expected to be a shoo-in for the U.S. Olympic marathon team this summer, failed to finish in the top three at the U.S. Olympic trials men’s marathon last November.

Keflezighi, who won the silver medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004, won’t be running in Beijing.

“Obviously, it was very disappointing,” said Keflezighi, who was eighth in 2:15:09, more than a mile off his best time. “My cards didn’t play right. The last thing I was expecting was not making the team. I went in trying to win the race.”

For the American from Eritrea, every marathon since New York City in 2005 has been a disaster.

“I’ll be honest with you, the last three marathons have not tested my fitness,” said Keflezighi, who is training in San Diego before moving to altitude at Mammoth Lakes, Calif. “Starting with New York City and the food poisoning in ‘06, London and the blisters in ‘07, then the trials [at miles 15-16, his right calf became painful, causing him to overcompensate and injure the glutes and piriformis].

“You try really hard. Sometimes you have to get lucky, and I haven’t been lucky. Every marathon since the ‘05 New York City Marathon, I haven’t been on the podium.”

Keflezighi said he is still early in his training, fighting a head cold and still recovering from the injuries from last November’s trials. He was hoping to run the USA Cross Country championships because the meet is in San Diego.

Instead, he will skip cross country and prepare for April 13, when he will run the London Marathon.

Then Keflezighi’s focus will shift to his only other chance to qualify for the Olympics this year — this time in the 10,000 meters on July 4.

“It’s definitely a competitive, tough field,” said Keflezighi, who will turn 33 in May. “Like the marathon, it will be loaded. I still will do a fall marathon.”

He has not committed to that fall race yet, although he has run a marathon in New York the past four Novembers.

Keflezighi has won two 10,000-meter races in the Olympic trials, one in 2000 when he was 12th in the Olympic final in Sydney despite having the flu and one in 2004. But he opted to compete only in the marathon in 2004, when he won the silver.

“My training has been there,” Keflezighi said of his preparations for London. “I’m just getting started again. Maybe I will take a week off after London, then 12 weeks to the Olympic trials.”

When asked whether he would go for the marathon at the 2012 Olympics, Keflezighi laughed.

“As long as the body is healthy, in the marathon I still have a shot at it,” he said. “Carlos Lopes did it [won the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic marathon in a still record 2:09:21], and he was 37. I am still 32, plenty of time for the marathon.”

Chairman vs. President — Reigning World Outdoor 1,500- and 5,000-meter champion Bernard Lagat won the Wanamaker Mile for the sixth time at Friday’s 101st Millrose Games in New York.

He is just one win away from Eamonn Coghlan’s record seven victories.

After the race, Lagat said: “I am the first one to confirm my participation for next year. I’m confirming it right now — it’s official. … Maybe we’ll share the [title of] Chairman of the Boards [next year]. And if I come back after that (in two years), then I’ll become the President.”

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