What Does The Paris 5,000 Mean For Galen Rupp's Medal Chances?
Once one gets over the initial shock of the "6 Guys Under 12:50 In Paris" headline, then one realizes there were plenty of encouraging results in Paris for Rupp.
July 9, 2012
Galen Rupp's quest for a medal in the 5,000 or 10,000 at the 2012 Olympics has been an obsession for many US distance fans for the last few months. Admittedly, Rupp's every action is an obsession for many US distance fans, as Rupp is sort of the New York Yankees of US men's distance running. Rupp is either beloved or hated because, much like the Yankees, he's definitely got way more resources at his disposal than most of his competition, whether it's underwater treadmills, anti-gravity treadmills, cryotherapy, asthma and/or allergy medication, thyroid medication, asthma mask, altitude tent, etc.
To us, from a performance standpoint alone, the obsession is justifiable, as a few years ago we weren't sure if we'd ever see a person not of African descent ever win a medal again in the 5k or 10k.
Given his recent double Olympic Trials wins in meet record times and his 12:58 5,000 at Pre, Rupp is clearly in great shape. What about his rivals?
Well, the Paris Diamond League men's 5,000 results on Friday were stunning to say the least. Coming into the race, only ten men had ever broken 12:50 for 5,000 and none since 2007 - and in a single race, six new guys did it.
Right after the race, the LetsRun.com message board exploded with topics asking what the results meant for Rupp's medal chances.
Bad news, right?
How can we say that?
Well, clearly the 5,000 results didn't increase Rupp's medal chances in that event. In addition to his training partner Mo Farah, who is the reigning 5,000 world champ, and US record holder Bernard Lagat, Rupp is going to have to contend with five Kenyan and Ethiopian runners who went sub-12:50 in Paris (we say five as John Kipkoech, who ran 12:49, isn't on the Kenyan team).
And as we said in our Paris preview, if Rupp loses to his training partner Farah, then he can only lose to one other person.
It's a super, super difficult task ... but not impossible. There are two reasons why Rupp is probably still dreaming of a 5,000 medal.
1. If you can close in 52.54 seconds in a 13:22.82 type race, you are a legitimate medal threat - even gold medal threat - as that's faster than what Mo Farah closed in last year (52.75 HT) when he won Worlds in 13:23.76 (for more on this train of thought, see our recap of Rupp's Olympic Trials win in the 5,000).
2. Rupp probably takes solace in the fact that two of the guys he beat handily at Prefontaine in the 5,000 - Thomas Longosiwa and John Kipkoech of Kenya - both ran sub-12:50 in Paris. One other bonus for Rupp - the third Kenyan on the 5,000 squad, Edwin Soi, was in the middle of the pack at Paris in 10th in 12:55.99.
At Pre, Rupp was third in 12:58.90 and Longosiwa (who was 3rd in the Kenyan Trials) and Kipkoech (who didn't show up in the Kenyan trials results) weren't close to Rupp, as they finished fifth and sixth in 13:03.88 and 13:06.71 respectively. The conditions at Pre were far from ideal as it was in the middle of the day and a little hot, whereas in Paris it was damp and cool. Based on the transitive property, Rupp likely feels he is in sub-12:50 shape himself.
But even if he's in that type of shape, Rupp's odds for a medal in the 5,000 have always been extremely remote and Friday's race in Paris just confirmed that. After Pre, it seemed that Mo Farah and Isiah Koech have a leg up on Rupp, and in Paris, the top two Ethiopians in Dejen Gebremeskel and Hagos Gebrhiwet were much better than Koech.
What About The 10,000?
But Rupp's best chances for a medal have always been in the 10,000 and Friday's race (and another one on Thursday) likely didn't make Rupp lose any sleep over his chances in the 10,000.
In the 10,000, Rupp really needs to only worry about seven people - maybe eight - Mo Farah, the three Ethiopians and three Kenyans and the in the race, and maybe Eritrea's Zersenay Tadese.
Let's start by assuming that he loses to his training partner Mo Farah. That means he can only lose to one other guy and still medal.
Let's take a look at the Ethiopians first.
Well, the Bekele brothers Tariku and Kenenisa are leading the Ethiopian charge in the 10,000 and nothing they did in Paris is mind boggling.
Beijing double Olympic champ Kenenisa Bekele improved on his 13:00 seasonal best by running 12:55.79 but he had his lowest finish of the year in terms of place- 9th.
Younger brother Tariku Bekele ran slightly faster at 12:54.13 for seventh but again that's nothing that Rupp doesn't think he can do.
The third member of the Ethiopian 10,000 team is 2009 World Cross-Country and 2010 ING New York City Marathon champion Gebregizabher Gebremariam.
Given his World Cross and New York wins in the past and his 12:52 and 26:52 PRs, Gebremariam is undoubtedly a great runner, but his biggest successes have come on the roads and in cross-country (4 global individual medals). In track, he's been to five World Championships and never medalled. Our main thought on him is: Why would one would suddenly expect him to start medalling on the track at age 27?
Gebremariam On The Track At The Olympics/World Champs
2003 - 6th in 5,000
2004 - 4th in 5,000
2005 - 15th in 10,000
2007 - 6th in 10,000
2009 - 10th in 10,000
The answer is ... you wouldn't expect him to start medalling.
To be fair, we guess one could say the same thing about Rupp, who is only 1 year and 8 months younger that Gebremariam, as Rupp has been to four Worlds before on the track and never gotten a medal, but Rupp's clearly improving by leaps and bounds still at age 26.
Rupp may have caught a break in the fact that Sileshi Sihine wasn't named to the team instead of Gebremariam. Gebremariam and Sihine raced at 10,000 twice this year - once in Hegnelo and once in London - as the Ethiopians kept having round after round of unofficial Olympic Trials, and the results were 1-1.
In Hengelo, Sihine beat Gebremariam by 1.06. In London, Gebremariam beat Sihine by 0.07. Yet Gebremariam was named to the team because the London result was more recent and the time was faster there than in Hengelo.
But Sihine has proven himself time and again as someone who can get the job on the track as he's won five World Championships silver medals in the 5,000/10,000. You'd think Ethiopia might reward "Mr. Silver" for his past accomplishments but that's not what happened.
Where Rupp really caught a break is the fact that defending world champ Ibrahim Jeilan has been injured. The guy who seemingly came out of nowhere to win Worlds last year made a desperate attempt to make the Ethiopian team by running a 10,000 in Liege on Thursday, but ended up dropping out.
Based on what they've done so far this year, Rupp isn't behind any of the Ethiopians really. Now, given the fact that last year on very limited training, Kenenisa Bekele was able to trounce Rupp in a 10,000 in Brussels, one would think it makes sense that Kenenisa would be able to do it again this year after a year of training. But Kenenisa, who just turned 30 on June 13th, certainly hasn't come around into great form as quickly as many expected this year.
What about the Kenyans? The results of the Kenyan Trials in Eugene were as follows:
1. Wilson Kiprop - 27:01.98
2. Moses Masai - 27:02.25
3. Bitan Karoki - 27:05.50
Masai ran only 12:59 in Paris. That's nothing for Rupp to fear.
Kiprop, who also is the World Half Marathon champ from 2010, is someone that has to be feared. Not just because he is the best Kenyan but because he's also got a legitimate coach that we trust - Renato Canova. Normally, we'd be concerned that Kiprop is sort of coming down to the 10,000 from the half marathon and has never run a global championship on the track. Thus, he hasn't shown the ability in the past to peak for a major championship on the track, but with Canova guiding him, we aren't too worried about that. Afer the Kenyan Trials in Eugene, Canova told LetsRun.com:
"I put only Kenenisa, maybe one Kenyan, and I put Mo and Galen Rupp. They are the four who can look for medals, no one else."
We're not sure a whole lot has actually changed since he made that statement.
The third Kenyan Bidan Karoki is a bit of a wild card in our minds. Could he at age 21 seemingly come out of nowhere and win the Olympics like Jeilan did at Worlds at age 22 last year? We guess it's possible.
The guy certainly has impressed us and others with some incredible mid-race surges in the past. Last year, he destroyed the Stanford field from 7 laps out. Then at the 2011 Kenyan Trials, his mid-race surge resulted in him having a 100 meter lead at 9km before he passed out mid-race. Clearly having a guy in the field like him will mean the race isn't likely to dawdle until the very end.
Ironically for Rupp, a guy who used to have a "poor" kick, at this point after his 5,000 win at the US Trials, he'd probably love for it to come down to the last 400, as Rupp has run 3:34 for 1,500 this year and closed a 5,000 in 52 seconds. Kiprop has barely raced the 5,000 in his life (his PR is 13:30) and Karoki's PR is just 13:15.
If Eritrea's Zersenay Tadese, who hasn't raced on the track this year, shows up at the Olympics, he likely won't let the pace dawdle either. The 4-time half marathon/20k world champ likes an honest pace and he won silver in 2009 and bronze in 2004. However, Rupp probably is taking solace in the fact that Tadese hasn't been in any results since the London Marathon and he normally likes to run prep races. Also, Tadese at age 30 may be a bit past his prime on the track.
Once one gets over the initial shock of the "6 Guys Under 12:50 In Paris" headline, then one realizes there were plenty of encouraging things in the Paris results for Rupp's chances in the 10,000 - namely that three of Rupp's biggest concerns in the 10,000 - the Bekeles and Masai - were way off the pace in Paris. Additionally, two of the guys Rupp beat at Pre went sub-12:50.
What will happen in London?
We'll find out on Saturday, August 4th - just 3+ weeks away.
More: MB: *Discussion: What Does The Paris 5,000 Mean For Galen Rupp's Medal Chances? *So what does the 5K results mean? No Gold for Rupp? *Bekele runs 12:55 on a bad day. What are Rupp and Farah thinking? *Galen Rupp Would Have Been 11th In Paris 5000m
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