Monday, October 18, 2010

Meb Keflezighi In The Wall Street Journal

"Mr. Keflezighi was born in Eritrea and escaped the worn-torn nation with his family, arriving in California when he was 12. He discovered running in America, earned a full scholarship to UCLA and trained through the American system, becoming a citizen in 1998.

Many credit him as one of the athletes who helped to restore United States' prominence in distance running on the world stage —a goal he explicitly set for himself.

"Still, after Mr. Keflezighi snapped a 27-year drought for American men in New York's marathon last year, the doubters surfaced again, this time in the mainstream media: Should his victory really count for the United States?

"Mr. Keflezighi publicly shrugged off such speculation at the time. He had heard similar things before. And he has heard it since.

"But last month, as Mr. Keflezighi contemplated the exchange while he prepares to defend his title in New York City on November 7, his voice broke.

"'I was happy, I was so proud,' he said. 'I was hoping to be on the Wheatie Box, you know? Somebody just says you aren't an American.'

"He looked away, his eyes filled with unexpected tears.

"'I couldn't believe it when he told me that.'"

Let's be clear. What really makes you an American is a love for this country, and for what it stands for. It seems pretty clear to me that this is a great American. I'll never forget Meb pointing at the U.S.A. on his jersey and signalling the crowd to cheer as he ran across the finish line. In New York, city of immigrants.

Good luck this year, Meb. Win it again for America.