Galen Rupp

Galen Rupp talks training with Mo Farah, marathons, weird drug test story

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Galen Rupp likes to say he pretended the 80,000 deafening cheers were for him while running the London Olympic 10,000m final, and not just for Britain’s Mo Farah, his training partner in Oregon.

Perhaps the illusion didn’t vanish immediately after Rupp eclipsed the finish line in second place, a half-second behind Farah. Rupp had become the first American man in 48 years to earn an Olympic medal in the East African-dominated event.

Thirty seconds later, the noise had not diminished.

Rupp hunched over lane nine, hands covering bloodied kneecaps, and pulled the 127-pound Farah up from the curved track upon which Rupp had just spit.

Then Rupp looked out into Olympic Stadium, raised his right hand and extended the index finger. No. 1. Rupp’s eyes shifted, and, less than a second later, he extended a second finger. No. 2, actually.

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Less than two years before the Olympics, Rupp had questioned coach Alberto Salazar‘s plan to add Farah to their training group, leery of a rival gaining from Salazar’s finely tuned programs and Nike’s resources.

As the race turned out, the only athlete that stood between Rupp and Olympic gold was that training partner, a Somalian-born Londoner with similar interests (soccer, not just running). It’s not uncommon in Olympic sports.

Sydney Olympic 100m gold medalist Maurice Greene was the best man at silver medalist Ato Boldon‘s wedding. Just in Sochi, the Olympic gold and silver medalists in women’s bobsled were training partners from different nations.

It was about four years ago that Farah decided to move to Oregon, and the trek toward the London one-two began. Now, Rupp, at 28, knows his best shot at Olympic gold may come in Rio de Janeiro (he remembers talking with Salazar while in high school about his prime Games years being 2012 and 2016).

Rupp spoke with OlympicTalk in New York on Friday, about 16 hours after he worked out at the Armory, where he was approached over and over again by other runners and fans for pictures (here and here and here and here and here). Rupp will compete in the Armory Track Invitational on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra (4:30-6:30 p.m. ET) on Saturday.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

OlympicTalk: You’re an Oregon guy. Were you stunned by Doha getting the 2019 World Championships over Eugene?

Rupp: I wouldn’t say I was stunned. I think Doha was always the front-runner going in. But I was disappointed. I was involved with it. It would have been a dream for me to be able to compete on home soil, basically my hometown.

(Interestingly, Rupp enjoyed an Oregon football tailgate with Qatar’s biggest track star, high jumper Mutaz Barshim, clad in Oregon green one month before the IAAF chose Doha over Eugene and Barcelona.)

OlympicTalk: How is it going to be different racing at a World Championships in Doha versus Eugene?

Rupp: Obviously, the weather is going to be a huge factor. Eugene is perfect at that time of year. Occasionally, you get some rain. For me, it just feels like fans are so great in Eugene. They get behind everything so much. It’s just a special place to run. They know everything about every athlete competing.

OlympicTalk: Mo Farah has been training in Africa, when was the last time you trained with him?

Rupp: November/December. He’s always gone over there. I think he just doesn’t want to change anything. It’s obviously worked for him in the past. I’m sure we’ll get back together and train, hopefully, in the spring.

OlympicTalk: I know you’ve got a family now, and kids, but have you thought about going with him over there?

Rupp: That’s too far for me. I’ve never been over there, so I guess it would be cool to see once. But I don’t really have any desire to go over there. I’m plenty content training in Portland in the winter, or for me to go to altitude, there are plenty of good places in the U.S. as well.

OlympicTalk: You’ve talked about moving up to the marathon at some point. Did watching Mo’s adversity in trying a marathon last year affect you?

Rupp: Nah. In all honesty, I’m really excited for whenever it is that I choose to move up. Right now, my focus is on the track through the Olympics. After 2016, I’ll be able to start looking at when a marathon might fit in. It was a good reminder how tough it is [seeing Farah]. A lot of times, you just think about something going really, really well. It’s a big jump. It’s a big change. It’s so different training from 10K to a marathon. I’ll be the beneficiary from him, learning what worked and what didn’t, advice he might have for whenever I choose to move up. But I’m still excited for it. The marathon, there’s something special about it. That, the mile and the 100 meters are the three biggest events.

OlympicTalk: Did you wake up early to watch Mo run the London Marathon?

Rupp: I watched the last little bit of it. But I didn’t watch the whole thing.

source: Getty Images
Galen Rupp broke the American record in the 10,000m at the Prefontaine Classic on May 30. (Getty Images)

OlympicTalk: Does it put a little bit more pressure on you thinking that 2016, given your age, might be your best shot at an Olympic gold medal?

Rupp: It does a little bit, yeah. Now that we’re here, there’s definitely a little bit more of a sense of urgency. But, to be honest, as far as pressure, the Olympics are enough pressure in itself. They only come every four years. You never know, an injury tomorrow and you can never run again.

OlympicTalk: Can you sense being closer to Mo in training? Where do you see yourself in comparison with him?

Rupp: I’m not so much just concentrated on him. Obviously, he’s been the best. But there’s a ton of good guys. It seems like every year, there’s another few of them that pop up that are going to be right up there. He’s a few years older than me, so I’ve got that working for me (smiles). We’ve always been really close in training. It’s never been like we just try to beat the hell out of each other. We’re never competing like that at the end of stuff. We’ve always been really close. That’s been one of the great things about being able to train with him, that we’re able to get so much more out of each other when we’re running together. I was pretty close in London.

OlympicTalk: What was going through your mind during the Olympic 10,000m medal ceremony? What’s the silver medalist’s mentality?

Rupp: Silver was such a blessing. I was so happy to get it. A lot of people will say, well, are you disappointed you didn’t get gold? My response is usually more like I was thrilled to get the silver medal. Then afterwards it hit me that I’m really close right now. I know I can make that step. I was thisfar away. I really wanted to take some time to enjoy what I did there. Definitely, the day after, it was, what do I have to do to get better. Weaknesses that I have, areas that I need to address. I’ve got four years to get it right. Ever since then, that’s been my total focus.

OlympicTalk: Do you still have the “Stop Rupp” T-shirt from the 2008 U.S. Olympic trials?

Rupp: My mom definitely has one. I think I still have it somewhere in a box. I’m terrible with all that stuff.

(Rupp’s avatar on the Twitter account he hasn’t posted from since 2012 is of him wearing the shirt. Mysteriously, Rupp follows Alan Webb on Twitter. Webb didn’t join Twitter until 2014.)

OlympicTalk: You get drug tested more than anybody else. What’s the weirdest setting you’ve been called on for an out-of-competition test?

Rupp: One time in college, I was driving back from Portland, something like that. I got a call. You’ve got to be tested. I met them at a truck stop off the side of the highway. I went in there, and of course, they have to watch you go to the bathroom and stuff. Of course, we got a lot of weird looks from truckers walking along, wondering what the heck is going on. Then we put everything in the bottles and the paperwork on a picnic table outside.

Russian Olympic, World track and field champions get doping bans

Meryl Davis, Charlie White, Kimmie Meissner, Casey entering skating Hall of Fame

Meryl Davis, Charlie White
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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — As they enter the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame, Meryl Davis and Charlie White ponder just who they are joining in receiving one of the highest honors in their sport.

“One of the things that makes it so special is we are friends with and respect so much so many previous people who have gone into the Hall of Fame,” Davis said before the induction ceremony Saturday. “Scott Hamilton, Kristi Yamguchi, Brian Boitano — people we look up to and now we are in their company.”

As are 2006 world champion Kimmie Meissner and the late Kathy Casey, one of American figure skating’s most successful coaches.

Davis and White, along with training partners and friends Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, were at the forefront of bringing ice dance to previously unreachable heights for Americans. Once the abyss of the sport, Americans now tend to populate podiums in international competitions.

In 2010 at the Vancouver Olympics, Davis and White followed Belbin and Agosto four years earlier as silver medalists. At the Sochi Games in 2014, they edged Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the 2010 champions, for the gold.

Davis and White won every U.S. title from 2009-14, plus two world crowns.

NATIONALS: TV Schedule | Full Results

But Davis and White were — and are — about so much more than their on-ice performances. He now coaches and she has been instrumental in the startup and development of Figure Skating in Detroit, an offshoot of the inner city Figure Skating in Harlem program that has been a rousing success in New York City.

“When we were young skaters and took the lay of the land of the sport,” White said, “we thought about becoming leaders of the sport. We recognized we would have a role as we were ascending and we felt it was a real responsibility. Be thoughtful and considerate with anyone you deal with. We tried to let our skating do the talking as competitors, but we wanted the way we conducted ourselves off the ice to be professional and helpful to the sport.

“We have felt the responsibility because of everything skating has given to us to give back responsibly and, in the end, to always be grateful.”

Meissner, still one of the few American women to master the triple Axel, also is one of those rare athletes to be a champion on all level. She won novice, junior and senior U.S. titles.

Her performance at age 16 at Calgary worlds soon after finishing sixth at the Turin Olympics as the youngest U.S. athlete not only was a highlight of her career but of any world championships.

“I was ready for that moment,” said Meissner, who also coaches and is in school to become a physician’s assistant. “I had been practicing that way pretty much before the Olympics. It was nerves at the Olympics and I was happy to salvage what I did.

“At worlds, I was not shocked at all that I skated clean at a time when it really needs to happen.”

Casey, who died in September, spent more than 50 years in the sport. She helped advance the biomechanical studies of jumps and was expert at helping skaters correct technical aspects of their performances. In 2005, she was the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Sports Science Coach of the Year.

The official U.S. coach at three Olympics, Casey coached two-time U.S. champion Scott Davis (1993-94). She was the Professional Skaters Association president from 1989 to 1994, was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2008.

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MORE: Nathan Chen leads men’s short program, followed by world team battle

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

Nathan Chen leads U.S. Figure Skating Championships, followed by world team battle

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Nathan Chen broke his own U.S. Figure Skating Championships short program scoring record, hitting two quadruple jumps en route to a whopping 13.14-point lead on Saturday.

Chen, trying to become the first man to win four straight national titles since Brian Boitano in 1988, tallied 114.13 points. Jason Brown, the 2015 U.S. champion, is in second after beating Chen in artistic marks but lacking a quad. Andrew Torgashev is the surprise third-place skater going into Sunday’s free skate.

Chen hit a quad flip, triple Axel and a quad toe-triple toe combination in Greensboro, N.C., on limited practice due to a recent flu.

“I’m thrilled with it,” Chen, a Yale sophomore, said on NBC. “This was probably the least prepared I’ve been, but I really made good use of the last week, the week that I was able to actually start getting training in.”

Nationals continue later Saturday with the pairs’ free skate and the free dance, live on NBC Sports. A full TV and live stream schedule is here.

NATIONALS: TV Schedule | Full Results

How substantial is Chen’s lead? No other skater, pair or dance couple has led a U.S. Championships by double digits after a short program since the Code of Points was instituted in 2006. Chen has now done it three times in the last four years.

Chen, undefeated since placing fifth at the PyeongChang Olympics, is all but assured to lead the three-man world championships team. Who will join him is what will be determined Sunday.

Brown is in strong position to go to a fourth world championships in Montreal in March. He was clean on his three jumping passes, though the only man in the top five without a quad. Brown is the second-ranked U.S. man overall this season, coming back from a late August concussion when his Uber ran a red light, T-boned another car, then swung sideways and hit the car a second time.

“The season has been such a struggle,” Brown said. “To work through each setback and to be able to put up a performance like that, that I’ve worked so hard to do, that’s where the emotion came from.”

Torgashev, who won the 2015 U.S. junior title at age 13, made his case with a clean short featuring a quad toe. Torgashev’s best senior nationals finish in three starts was seventh last year. He is the son of two world junior medalists from the Soviet Union.

Vincent Zhou, the 2019 World bronze medalist, has twice finished second to Chen at nationals. He was strong on Saturday considering his turbulent season, placing fourth with a quad Salchow.

Zhou attempted to match Chen last fall by balancing Ivy League classes with training. It didn’t work, and he went the entire autumn without committed skating. He decided to take a break from Brown University and move to Toronto to train under a new coach, Lee Barkell.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Adam Rippon takes pleasure in new role — coaching U.S. silver medalist

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.