Meb Keflezighi, Jenny Simpson win USATF Athlete of the Year awards

Meb Keflezighi
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Boston Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi and Diamond League 1500m winner Jenny Simpson were named USA Track and Field’s Athlete of the Year winners Monday.

Keflezighi, the first American man to win the Boston Marathon in 31 years, earned the Jesse Owens Award over the likes of Justin Gatlin, who went undefeated in the 100m and 200m this year, four years removed from a four-year doping suspenion.

“This recognition as the best athlete on the world’s best track and field team, especially at the age of 39, means a lot to me, and is a tribute to all who have supported me unconditionally throughout the years,” Keflezighi said in a press release.

Keflezighi, the 2004 Olympic marathon silver medalist, also won the USATF Half Marathon Championships and finished fourth in the New York City Marathon this year.

He could become the oldest U.S. Olympic runner ever in Rio.

Simpson, 28, won the final two Diamond League 1500m races this summer to secure the season-long title in the event. She won the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Award over fellow Diamond League champions Allyson Felix and Dawn Harper-Nelson, among others.

“Twenty years ago, I was a normal kid running around PE class when my gym coach suggested I join the cross-country team,” Simpson said in a press release. “I never could have imagined where that suggestion would lead.”

Simpson broke her 1500m personal best twice this year and is one tenth shy of Mary Slaney‘s American record, the longest-standing American record in an Olympic men’s or women’s track event.

In Rio, Simpson could become the first American to win an Olympic track gold medal in an event longer than 400m in 44 years.

Peter Forsberg and the Olympics