(Reuters) - Galen Rupp, the first American in 30 years to be top ranked at 10,000 meters, is hoping his indoor speed work will help him snap an even bigger U.S. distance drought, an Olympic gold medal.
The 28-year-old Portland, Oregon native came within striking distance at the 2012 London Games, finishing second behind training partner Mo Farah, and is now hoping to become the first American 10,000 meters Olympic champion since Billy Mills in 1964 at next year’s Rio de Janeiro Games.
“That (the London silver medal) has helped me from a confidence perspective going forward. In Rio, my goal is to win.” Rupp told Reuters in a telephone interview.
”It was like a dream come true what happened in London. It was weird.
”I remember when I was a sophomore in high school and Alberto (coach Alberto Salazar) telling me that in 2012 and more likely in 2016 you’re going to be right up there competing for a medal.
“The fact that I got there in 2012 was crazy. It was really unbelievable. I still can’t believe it looking back.”
Rupp begins his new year with a run at the indoor two-mile record on Saturday at the Armory Track Invitational and will return to the New York venue for 5,000 meters at the Feb. 14 Millrose Games in preparation for a double medals bid at the world championships in August.
“Right now everything is gearing toward the world championships in Beijing and obviously will come down to a kick again as championship races always do,” he said.
“So we’re really trying to work on my speed indoors and see how the new training works out.”
Rupp said Farah’s triumphs in a golden 10,000/5,000 double at the last Olympics and world championships have inspired and motivated him to try and match the feat by the Somali-born Briton.
“I‘m lucky to be training with the best distance runner in the world the last couple of years,” Rupp said. “That pushes me on a daily basis. It’s a really healthy competition.”
Rupp expects the hard work to pay off.
“I am strong enough, I believe. My training has been heavier, doing more volume, so I should be able to come back and double really well,” said Rupp, who finished seventh at 5,000 meters at the London Games.
“That’s been one of the best things being with Mo and seeing how he does things to recover and be able to come back just as strong in the 5K a couple of days after running a hard 10,000 meters has been really exciting for me.”
The strenuous training, which includes practice sessions after races, was something he has grown used to under the Oregon-based Salazar.
“I’ve been doing that since I was a sophomore in high school,” Rupp said.
“The reason behind it is that even though it’s intense, a race is not a lot of volume. We don’t want to waste a day of training, especially when during the bulk of the racing season we’re racing sometimes every week.”
Rupp finished 2014 ranked first in the world in 10,000 meters by Track & Field News after running a year’s best 26:44.36 at the Prefontaine Classic to break his U.S. record by nearly four seconds.
He believes his long-term relationship with Salazar has helped him progress and stay fit.
“Having that consistency, you develop a close relationship with your coach. Lots of times Alberto knows how my body will react better than I do,” he said.
“I’ve been really lucky to have the same coach since high school. He’s always had a long-term plan for me. I think that’s contributed a lot to how healthy I’ve been over the years.”
Rupp has been just as busy away from the track as the father of twins Grayson and Emmie, born last July.
“It’s been incredible, the most amazing thing. A little overwhelming ... but a blessing. They’re just so fun,” he said.
“To go home when you’ve had a bad day, just seeing them and seeing them laugh, it’s the best thing ever.”
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Gene Cherry