February 29, 2020 / 11:16 PM / 3 months ago

Who are you calling old? Ageless Abdi books ticket to fifth Olympics

Feb 29, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Abdi Abdirahman celebrates with United States flag after placing third in the men's race in 2:10:03 to qualify for his fifth Olympic team during the US Olympic Team Trials marathon. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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

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