By Amy Tennery
ATLANTA (Reuters) – It is often said that age is nothing but a number. For 43-year-old marathoner Abdi Abdirahman, it was little more than an afterthought at Saturday’s U.S. Olympic marathon trials.
Slicing through his younger peers on a hilly and demanding Atlanta course, Abdirahman defied the years and the odds to take third place in 2:10:03, becoming the oldest American man to book a spot on the U.S. Olympic marathon team.
“I never count myself out,” Abdirahman told reporters after the race. “Everything worked the way I wanted … getting third or first, second is the same – we’re all going the same place and we all accomplished the same goals we wanted.”
Prior to Saturday’s race, many speculated whether the 43-year-old, four-time Olympian would crack the top 10. Few, however, expected him to walk away Tokyo-bound to a jaw-dropping fifth Olympics.
He first joined Team USA two for Sydney 2000, where he placed 10th in the 10,000 metres, and followed that with 15th- and 10th-place finishes in the subsequent two Games.
He competed in the marathon at the London Olympics but failed to finish.
Part of his successful run-up to Atlanta included a 12-week stint in the high altitudes of Ethiopia, where Abdirahman told reporters he put in “a lot of training” alongside four-time Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah of the UK.
“After 20 years of running, I remember making my first Olympic team,” he said. “I think it will be my last Olympics but it won’t be my last trials.”
(Reporting By Amy Tennery; Editing by Daniel Wallis)