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Meb Keflezighi would be 44 years old, if he decided to compete at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta.

By Chris Chavez
October 09, 2018

Meb Keflezighi is considering coming out of retirement to try to make a fifth U.S. Olympic team at the age of 44 years old at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, according to Runner's World.

As the most decorated U.S. marathoner in history, Keflezighi won a silver medal in the 2004 Olympic marathon. He also won the 2009 New York City Marathon, the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials and the 2014 Boston Marathon. Keflezighi, currently 43, made his first U.S. Olympic team on the track in 2000 and then competed in the marathon at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Summer Games. He announced his retirement from competitive running after racing the 2017 New York City Marathon, which was his 26th career marathon.

"If you asked me today, I’d say it’s less likely, but it is something I think about,” Keflezighi told RW's Brian Metzler. “Once I made my second Olympic team in 2004, I was young enough that I thought maybe I could make five Olympics, one for each of the five Olympic rings. Unfortunately, I missed the 2008 team for Beijing, but then I made it to London in 2012 and Rio in 2016, so part of me thinks, you know, that five is still a possibility.”

“I still believe I can run 2:12 or 2:13, and maybe even faster on a great day,” Keflezighi added. “The question that I have to ask myself is whether or not I want to do the work to get in 2:14 shape. I really don’t know.”

Keflezighi ran April's Boston Marathon recreationally for the Martin Richard Foundation and will run next month's New York City Marathon for the Team for Kids charity.

The 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials will be held on Feb. 29, 2020 in Atlanta. The qualifying window for the trials opened on September 1, 2017. Men have to run faster than 2:19 to qualify, which means that Keflezighi's 2:15:29 from last year's New York City Marathon would qualify him for the trials. Once at the trials, Keflezighi would need to finish in the top three to qualify for the Olympics in Tokyo.

Does Meb have a shot?

Keflezighi always has a shot. It's a lesson that was learned after many of his iconic performances. He surprised some by making the 2012 U.S. Olympic team and even more people when he finished fourth in London. After those Games, he struggled with injuries and was totally discounted before the 2014 Boston Marathon, which he won. 

The state of U.S. marathoning is at its best on the women's side. Meanwhile, two of the three U.S. Olympic team spots appear to be up for grabs on the men's side. While anything can happen on race day, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Galen Rupp would be the only lock. He won the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, medaled in Rio, won the 2017 Chicago Marathon and ran a 2:06:07 at the Prauge Marathon in May. Rupp was sixth at this past weekend's Chicago Marathon in 2:06:21. He is head and shoulders above the rest of U.S. competition and would be the best hope at a medal in Japan.

The next fastest marathoners for the U.S. in 2018 are Elkanah Kibet and Aaron Braun, who ran 2:12 and 2:13 respectively in Chicago. Neither of them has made a U.S. Olympic team. Last year, six men (Rupp, Scott Smith, Scott Fauble, Ryan Vail, Abdi Abdirahman and Chris Derrick) ran under 2:13 and all but Rupp and Abdirahman would be first-time Olympians. Abdirahman will be 43, if he decides to race in Atlanta and try to make his own fifth Olympic team.

Jared Ward, third member of the 2016 U.S. Olympic marathon team, has struggled to find the same fitness and performances that landed him in the top three at the 2016 trials. He will run in next month's New York City Marathon against four-time U.S. Olympian Bernard Lagat, who will be making his marathon debut. Lagat spoke with SI in August and said he will wait until after the New York City Marathon to decide whether he will go for the 2020 marathon trials.

There are 16 months until Atlanta and the picture for Tokyo looks more wide open than past years. Keflezighi getting back into shape could shake things up.

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