Fred said it: Meet marathon winner Meb Keflezighi - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Fred said it: Meet marathon winner Meb Keflezighi


Meb Keflezighi won the Boston Marathon Monday in what was a remarkable day of healing after the tragic bombings last year. That story does not require recounting by me. But, Meb Keflezighi's story does require telling.

The 38-year-old Keflezighi is the first American to win the race since 1983. Two hours, eight minutes and 37 seconds. And, Keflezighi is a guy living the American dream in ways most of us could never relate to.

He was born in Eritrea, an African nation which was embroiled in a violent dispute to claim its independence from Ethiopia. His father, Russom, was a member of the Eritrean Liberation Front. A man hunted by the opposition, which meant his pregnant wife and five children were hunted as well. Meb told Sports Illustrated in 2005 that he remembered his father sleeping in the woods to avoid the enemy.

Eventually, the father moved to Italy to flee the oppression and, eventually, the family settled here in the U.S. in San Diego. Meb was 12 years old and in 7th grade at the time. ALL of the children attended college. Meb settled in at UCLA where he continued to run remarkably, becoming a naturalized American citizen along the way.

He loves his country, and perhaps one of his biggest disappointments came after earning the silver medal in the marathon event of the 2004 Olympic Summer Games of Athens. He was the first American man to medal in the event since Frank Shorter in 1976.

But, at the conclusion of the event - the final one of the games - he was taken away for drug testing. He didn't receive his medal until later that night, thus missing the chance to carry the flag of his beloved, adopted homeland. Keflezighi told Sports Illustrated these four words of the aftermath: "Bad things for me."

He's won most every meaningful distance event there is. Those in the discipline know his name and his story. Now after winning the 118th, and most followed, Boston Marathon, the rest of us know this man's inspiring story.

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