Galen Rupp: Running mate who is out to catch Mo Farah

The American athelete took silver when his training partner won 10,000m gold at London 2012. Now he is aiming to reverse the roles, he tells Simon Turnbull

Galen Rupp is getting ready to catch up with Mo Farah. The training partners who finished the Olympic 10,000 metres final so memorably together last summer – Rupp coming second in the red, white and blue of the United States and Farah first in the red, white and blue of Team GB – have started 2013 apart.

While Rupp has been toiling away at their usual training base on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon, and honing his speed on the US indoor circuit, Farah has been out in Iten, on the slopes of the Great Rift Valley in Kenya, laying the foundations for post-Olympic year. The pair meet in Birmingham next week to prepare for the British Athletics Grand Prix, but will be kept apart on the track when it comes to the action in the National Indoor Arena on Saturday week.

Rupp runs in the 5,000m – against Dejen Gebremeskel, the Ethiopian who took the Olympic silver behind Farah at that distance at London 2012. Farah runs in the 3,000m, his first race of the year.

The Briton who completed the Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m double on home ground last summer has gone on record as saying that Rupp is ahead of him on the training front in 2013 and that he is wary of the threat likely to be posed to him this year from the 26-year-old American he joined at Alberto Salazar’s Oregon Project elite distance running camp two years ago.

Rupp has already been in impressive form on the boards back home, clocking a world-leading 3min 50.92sec for the mile at the Terrier Invitational in Boston a fortnight ago and then a lifetime best 7min 33.87sec for second place behind the new Ethiopian teenage sensation Hagos Gebrhiwet in the 3,000m at the Boston Indoor Games last weekend.

“Well, I’m not sure if I can say I’m ahead of Mo,” Rupp pondered, speaking on the telephone from Portland. “Maybe in the fact that Mo took a little longer to get back after the Olympics than I did, I suppose. I had a couple of weekends’ start on him.

“I’ve talked to him a lot while he’s been out in Kenya and his training has been going well. We’re just looking forward to getting back together after the Birmingham meeting, resuming training and getting ready for the summer.”

The climax of the summer will come in Moscow in August when the two training partners go head to head for the 5,000m and 10,000m titles at the World Championships. “Hopefully, I can close the gap on Mo,” said Rupp, who finished 0.48sec down on Farah in the silver medal position in the Olympic 10,000m final and seventh in the 5,000m. “That’s certainly my goal. My goal in 2013 is just to continue to improve. It would be great to win another medal in Moscow in the summer.

“Mo and I are still great friends. Nothing’s ever going to change that. Mo’s always going to be laid-back. That’s just who he is.

“Everybody thinks I’m pretty laid-back too – maybe not as laid-back as Mo. We don’t ever really worry about stuff and we get on great together.

“When Mo first came out to Portland two years ago one of the things that I was really impressed with right away was just how unselfish he was. There were times in training when he was still getting over the jet lag and wasn’t feeling great and he was still adamant about leading his share of the reps and doing what he could to help out myself and the other guys.

“Here was a guy who was probably better than everybody else in our group at the time and he was still willing to sacrifice himself. From the get-go he impressed me a lot with that attitude.

“Mo’s a great team player. He genuinely cares about the other athletes. It’s been good to have somebody like that in the group – not only for myself but for everybody else.”

The benefits of grafting away under the guidance of Salazar, the three-time New York City Marathon champion, have certainly been mutual. Farah has advanced from the world-class fringes to join the all-time greats who have completed the Olympic “distance” double on the track – Lasse Viren, Emil Zatopek and Co. Rupp, a protégé of Salazar since his high-school days in Portland, has become the first US Olympic 10,000m medal winner since the Native American Billy Mills struck gold in the 25-lap event in Tokyo in 1964.

“It’s been really great for the younger generations to see that it’s possible to compete with the East Africans,” Farah’s training partner said.

“You don’t have to go into international races with a defeatist attitude, thinking that the East Africans are automatically going to win.”

The British Athletics Grand Prix will be televised live on the BBC on Saturday 16 February. For more information visit britishathletics.org.uk

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