LONDON — Galen Rupp has run so many miles with training partner Mo Farah that it’s only natural for him to follow his good friend’s lead.
This time, Farah led Rupp straight to an Olympic medal.
Rupp was the surprise silver medalist in the 10,000-meter race Saturday night, staying close to Farah the entire race. The British runner crossed the finish line in first, a look of awe sweeping across his face.
A few steps later, Rupp burst across, too, only he screamed at the top of his lungs as he became the first American since 1964 to win any sort of medal in the event.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” said Rupp, who trains in Portland, Ore. “You dream about these days, but when it actually comes it’s still surreal. You’re like, ‘Holy cow, I’m a silver medalist.’”
For that, Rupp credits Farah, who moved to Oregon nearly two years ago to work with coach Alberto Salazar and Rupp.
“Two great athletes. Best of friends,” said Salazar, who runs Nike’s Oregon Project, a stable of elite runners. “They are great training partners for each other and they will do anything for each other.”
That includes guiding each other through the tough stretches. Near the halfway mark of the race, Rupp was getting edgy as some of the African runners made their move. He wanted to surge along with them.
But Farah cautioned Rupp, telling him to hang back and be patient.
“He’s like, ‘Take it easy, mate. You’re going to be all right,’” the 26-year-old Rupp recounted. “That just calmed me down. He’s always looking out for me and helping me out.”
Not only did Rupp lean on Farah in the race, he also fed off a crowd that was wildly cheering for the hometown runner. Rupp pretended the fans were pulling for him as well.
The mind game worked, just like riding the coattails of Farah.
“I was cognizant of where he was,” Rupp said. “It’s really comforting having a training partner in there. At the end, it almost felt like practice.
“He’s been an unbelievable partner, almost like a brother. I’ve been more of the beneficiary of our relationship.”
Farah begs to differ.
“He’s giving me a lot of compliments,” Farah said. “But it’s the hard work. That’s what we do.
“At the end, I just tried to use my speed. That was always my aim. Alberto said you two work together and make your way through. That’s what we did. When I crossed the line I couldn’t believe it. I was like, ‘Did I really cross the line first?’”
Yep, he really did.
And his training partner was just a few big steps behind.
“I wouldn’t be where I am without him. I’m not going to lie,” said Rupp, the first American to medal in the 10,000 since Billy Mills won gold 48 years ago. “Being able to learn from him, train with him, has been great.”
The relationship isn’t all about putting in the miles. They also find time to squeeze in some friendly video games of FIFA World Cup. Rupp always goes with Manchester United while Farah takes Arsenal.
“We have a great time,” Rupp said. “I’m thrilled for Mo. It’s unreal. Two training partners coming in first and second.
“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.”
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.