Galen Rupp, American Hero

If you were paying attention to Olympic coverage this weekend, you no doubt saw Usain Bolt sprint to 100m gold in 9.63 seconds, which, if you’ll indulge me, is about how long it will take you to read this sentence.

You certainly saw 16-year-old Gabby Douglas (who, I must add, was born on the date of the all-time greatest Phish show — sorry, had to!) win the women’s individual all-around gold in gymnastics.

You probably saw Kerry Walsh and Misty May, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, Missy Frankling and Michael Phelps.

And you almost certainly did not see one of the most triumphant, far-fetched, “zany, unbelievable, absolutely impossible dream” of a United States medal, won by a skinny and tall homely white boy from Oregon: Galen Rupp.


Galen Rupp: American Hero

For those of you… ok, us… who haven’t been following US Track & Field for the last 40 years (show of hands please? thanks), Galen’s 2012 London Olympics silver medal in the 10,000m (10K) race was the first US medal – of any kind – in an Olympic 5K or 10K race since…

1992? No.

1980? Try again.

Munich ’72? One more guess.

1964.  When the Summer Games were held in a little-known town called Tokyo, 48 years ago. (Want to check the lists? 5000m and 10,000m).

The gold medalist that year?  The ultra high profile, world famous, American celebrity and legend Billy Mills.

Wait, what, you’ve don’t know who that is?  You’ve never heard of Billy Mills?  You say no one even so much as mentioned his long-ago medal at any time in Olympic coverage leading up to the 10K race?  Oh, that’s right..


Until now.

Galen Rupp has defibrillated US Olympic Track & Field, for five decades a mere fly on world track & field’s morning newspaper.

And how many of you watched the race as it happened?  How many of you read the post-race coverage on the front page of (LOL)? How many of you knew that this even happened until now?

I know that reads like I’m pointing a disapproving finger.  Like I’m shaking my head slowly and sighing audibly. And I am.


Not at the American public, patriots, athletes, runners, sitters, standers.

I’m disappointed.. no, I’m not.. I’m $#@%$*& PISSED that the American media, even the sports media, hasn’t given this 1/1,000th the coverage they’ve doled to Usain Bolt.  And I’ll remind you, although I don’t need to, that he’s from Jamaica.  You know, NOT THE UNITED STATES.

Maybe it’s an indictment on our ever-shortening attention spans that the American public, and thus the American media, would rather watch 9.63 seconds of glory for another nation than 27 minutes and 30 seconds, 48 years and 12 Olympic Games worth of pressure on the shoulders – and legs – of one man, all 138 pounds of him.

But I blame the American media and American sports journalists for not recognizing and publicizing the greatness, the triumph and the glory of Galen’s moment under the fog on Saturday.  Shame, shame, shame on you.

Galen Rupp, Olympic 10K silver medalist, American Hero.


About Benjamin Markus

I am a 32-year-old runner living in Gainesville, FL.
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2 Responses to Galen Rupp, American Hero

  1. Lucky enough to have seen the race – although from Ireland, I’m aware of the legends of Pre, and what Oregon means to distance running in the States. If Nike had the slightest sense, they’d milk this within an inch of its life, and make Rupp a superstar – just a 30 second clip of the back of Rupp training, preferably at night, wearing a “Pre Lives” t-shirt, at the end, as Rupp runs out of sight, the words Pre Lives linger on the screen…before the word On fades in beside them.

    “Pre. Lives. On.”

    Maybe fade in the BBC audio coverage of the great Michael Johnson screaming “Come on Galen” at the London 2012 10K – goosebump stuff.

    • Thanks for the thoughts, Martin.
      There’s a somewhat interesting duality, it seems, appearing in the United States media. This is the emergence and increase in advertising and promotion for running as a means to weight loss and fitness, yet at the same time a total ignoring of the competitive sport. An interesting study would be to see if promotion of running for fitness (TV shoe ads etc.) has raised any interest in the competitive sport itself. If there is a positive correlation, it certainly hasn’t shown up on the national sports television menu. Again – a damn shame.

      Ben (@BenMarkus1985)

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