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Dr. J. on Running

US Olympic Distance Running Team

Experience over Speed

Published September 18, 2000 in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

Twenty-three Americans traveled down-under to represent the US in distance running events at the 2000 Olympic Games that began last Friday in Sydney, Australia. Overall, the 2000 US Olympic Track & Field team, is the oldest of any US Olympic or World Championship track and field team in history. The average age for the men's team is 27.9 years, while the women are 29.2 years old on average.

America's track record in distance running competition has been lack-luster in recent Olympic competition. Only two women have ever won Olympic medals in distance events: Joan Benoit in the marathon in Los Angeles in 1984 and Lynn Jennings in 10,000 meters in Barcelona in 1992. On the men's side, Frank Shorter's silver medal in the marathon in Montreal in 1976 is the most recent US medal in distance running, while Billy Mills' gold medal in 10,000 meters Tokyo in 1964 is the US's most recent distance medal on the track.

Back to Sydney, let us take a brief look at America's distance teams. On the women's side, Christin Clark is the sole representative in the marathon, thanks to flawed American selection process. Clark is a 37-year-old pathologist and mother-of-two from Anchorage, Alaska.

At 10,000 meters, the US team consists of Deena Drossin, Jen Rhines and Libbie Hickman. Drossin is a 27-year-old poet and writer from Alamosa, Colorado. Rhines needs no introduction to Central New Yorkers. Hickman is a 35-years-old self-described gardening freak from Fort Collins, Colorado.

At 5,000 meters, the US will be represented by Elva Dryer, Amy Rudolph and Anne Marie Lauck. Dryer, 28, is a seven-time NCAA division II track and cross country champion, currently living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Rudolph, 28, is a health policy and management graduate of Providence College. Lauck, 31, a Rochester NY native, arguably one of the gutsiest runners around, was the top American finisher in the 1996 Olympic marathon in Atlanta.

Suzy Favor Hamilton, Marla Runyan and Shayne Culpepper make-up the eventful 1,500-meter squad. At age 32, Hamilton is America's fastest 1,500-meter runner ever and a serious medal contender in Sydney. Runyan, 31, overcame injury and adversity to win the US indoor championship at 3,000 meters and make the Olympic team at 1,500 meters. Culpepper, 26, was a substitute on the team, and gets to compete following Regina Jacobs' withdrawal due to illness.

On the men's side, Rod DeHaven is the sole US marathoner in Sydney, due to the same flawed selection process. Another hard-working professional, 34-year-old DeHaven is a computer scientist and father of two in Madison, Wisconsin.

The 10,000m US team includes recent immigrants Meb Keflezighi and Abdi Abdirahman. Keflezighi, 25, an Eritrean native, won four NCAA titles for UCLA. Abdirahman, a Somalian native, recently graduated from Arizona at age 21 with a degree in retail consumer studies. Alan Culpepper, husband of 1,500-meter Olympian Shayne Culpepper, is the third member of the US 10,000-meter team.

America's 5,000-meter team consists of Adam Goucher, Brad Hauser and Nick Rogers. Goucher, 25, is a five-time NCAA national champion for Colorado, and a three-time open national champion at various distances. Hauser, 23, twin brother of Brent Hauser, is considered the best distance runner in Stanford history. Rogers, 25, a graduate of Eastern Washington College in Oregon, trains under legendary coach Bill Dellinger.

The 3,000-meter steeplechase features Pascal Dobert, Mark Croghan and Tony Cosey. Dobert, 26, a graduate of Wisconsin, is a 3-time national champion and the number one steeplechaser in the country. Croghan, 32, is a three-time Olympic team member and five-time national champion. Cosey, 26, is a Tennessee graduate in physchology.

The 1,500-meter Olympic team features Stanford University teammates Gabe Jennings and Michael Stember, and veteran Olympian Jason Pyrah. Jennings, 21, who grew up in Klamath National Forest without electricity or plumbing, sees life in three stages: athletics, music and philosophy.

The US distance men's team is coached by Jerry Quiller, Head Coach track and field at the US Military Academy at West Point. The women's team is coached by Mark Young, Head Coach track and field at Yale University.

Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at

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