By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Matthew Centrowitz, who at the Rio Olympics became the first American in 108 years to win 1,500 meters gold, will enjoy another payoff for that triumphant run before competing at the Millrose Games on Saturday.
Centrowitz, who followed in his father Matt's running shoes to claim Olympic glory, will see his tattoo-averse dad, a champion in his day and longtime coach at American University, get tattooed before the Millrose Games at the New York Armory.
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The 27-year-old Centrowitz, who has "Like father, like son" tattooed across his chest and "CITIUS" (Latin for "faster") on the back of his shoulder, had lobbied the four-time national 5,000 meters champion to get inked if he won Rio gold.
"My dad is getting one this weekend, his first," Centrowitz told Reuters in a telephone interview.
"Friday, the day before Millrose. It's all scheduled and situated, so my dad can’t back out now. I think he decided on 'Christ the Redeemer' on the back of his shoulder."
Centrowitz, winner of the last two Wanamaker Mile races at the Millrose Games, is doubling his distance this weekend, competing in the two-mile race with an eye toward his future when he might shift to longer distances.
"I have no intention to move up to 5,000 meters just yet, but I train like a 3,000-meter runner. I was primarily a two-miler in high school and I'm training with a bunch of 5,000 runners and 10,000 runners in my group," said Centrowitz, a University of Oregon product like his father.
"I think it’s going to suit me and I’ll have pretty good success. I'm pretty excited about racing different guys, different events," he said about breaking up his steady diet of 1,500m and one-mile events.
Centrowitz, who is coached by Alberto Salazar, said the Millrose event would a good challenge.
"The two miles is pretty loaded this year with guys like Olympic medalist steeplechaser Evan Jager, (world indoor 3,000 m medalist) Ryan Hill and Mo Ahmed (Canada's 2015 PanAm 10-K champion)," he said.
Centrowitz expects to run a 5,000m at the start of his outdoor season, but his primary focus will continue to be 1,500 meters, which he will run at the London world championships.
"It’s such a signature event, there's no point in moving up until you're irrelevant in that event," he said. "But I might sprinkle in a few 5Ks here and there until I fully transition."
Centrowitz believes moving up in distance will help enable him to stay in the Olympic mix through 2024 when he hopes Los Angeles will be hosting the Games.
"I think that would be a pretty cool way to end my running career," he said. "Back in the United States."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)