Gold: Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya)
Silver: Feyisa Lilesa (Ethiopia)
Bronze: Galen Rupp (United States)
A couple of days before the 2016 Olympic men’s marathon, Galen Rupp watched the movie “Happy Gilmore.”
He was inspired by Adam Sandler’s character, a professional hockey player who discovers that he might actually be more talented at another sport, golf.
Rupp, an accomplished track runner, is also making a transition to a new event, the marathon. Running 26.2 miles for just the second time, he claimed the bronze medal Sunday morning in Rio.
“I fought being a marathoner,” Rupp said to NBC’s Lewis Johnson, “but maybe this is my best event.”
Four years after not making the Kenya’s 2012 Olympic team, Eliud Kipchoge won the men’s marathon. Kipchoge, a two-time Olympic 5000m medalist, is the second fastest marathoner of all time. He crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 8 minutes, 44 seconds.
Ethiopia’s Feyisa Lilesa finished 70 seconds later to earn the silver medal.
Rupp finished in 2:10:05. After crossing the finish line, he flashed the “O” gesture with his hands, a nod to the University of Oregon.
Rupp made his 26.2 mile debut in February, winning the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.
He also ran the 10,000m at the 2016 Olympics, finishing fifth after earning the silver medal in 2012. Rupp’s training partner, Mo Farah, won the 10,000m in Rio.
“It was tough,” Rupp said. “I was pretty drained after the 10k.”
American Jared Ward finished sixth, running 2:11:30, a personal best. He is known as the “Running Nerd” because he is a statistics professor at BYU.
Meb Keflezighi, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist, said that he stopped seven times during the race and even threw up. But he continued running and finished 33rd. Keflezighi, 41, is the second oldest U.S. Olympic runner of all time, behind Bernard Lagat, who ran the 5000m in Rio.
Keflezighi slipped as he was about to cross the finish line. He played it off by doing a couple of push-ups before returning to his feet to finish the race.
“I knew it was going to be a long day,” Keflezighi said.
Earlier in Rio, Jemima Sumgong won the women’s marathon. She became the first Kenyan woman to win an Olympic marathon gold medal. All three U.S. women finished in the top 10.