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August 15th, 2012
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Letters to the President #1304: 'The magnificent Meb'

Reporter's Note: President Obama has made more than a few headlines with his congratulations to our Olympians. As I note in today's letter, there is one more who should be acknowledged. 

Dear Mr. President,

I will depart from any comments about politics today because a) I just don't have the heart for it, and b) there is one last thing about Olympics I have wanted to mention.

Did you see the men's marathon on Sunday morning? For my money, it is always the signature event of the games, and this year was a classic. The Kenyans, as expected, ran a fast, smart race and seemed to have the front of the field locked up for much of the course. However the Ugandan runner, Stephen Kiprotich, had other ideas. He marked them brilliantly, trailing just behind until the final miles, then blew past the vaunted Kenyans like a missile to grab the gold and leave them with silver and bronze.

My hero in the whole race, however, was America's own Meb Keflezighi. At 37 years old, he ran a magnificent race. While the announcers acknowledged him as something of a sentimental favorite who would do well to finish in the top ten, Meb quietly bided his time from the very start. He worked the front of the pack in the early miles, slipped back a dozen spots or more during the middle miles, then surged with inspiring wisdom and strength in the final stretch to capture 4th. Sure, he would have liked to be on the medal stand, and we would have loved to see him there. But for my money, and especially since our other two American runners dropped out well before the finish, Meb brought great honor to himself, his family, and our nation in a sport in which for a long time we have not been very strong. Remember, eight years ago, he was also the first marathoner to win a medal for the U.S. since Frank Shorter.

So when you are inviting all those medal winning Olympians to the White House for photo ops, I hope you will consider calling Meb to come by as well. This was his last Olympic run, and it came at an age when many athletes would not dream of trying such a difficult feat. It was courageous, it was inspirational, and it is worthy of the highest accolades.

Run, Meb, run.

Regards,
Tom

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