Updated February 4th, 2024 at 12:55 IST

O'Keeffe smashes women's US Olympic trials record in marathon debut, earns spot in Paris Games

It was around 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 Celsius) at the start of the race, with temperatures climbing into the 70s. In November, officials moved up the time of the race to 10 a.m. out of weather concerns.

Fiona O'Keeffe | Image:AP
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Fiona O'Keeffe smashed the women's U.S. Olympic marathon trials record in her debut at the distance on a warm Saturday to secure her spot in the Paris Games.

O'Keeffe finished in a time 2 hours, 22 minutes, 10 seconds to break the American marathon trials mark of 2:25:38 set by Shalane Flanagan in 2012 in Houston. Emily Sisson, the U.S. marathon record holder, was second and Dakotah Lindwurm surged into third to make Team USA for Paris.

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On the men's side, training partners and good friends Conner Mantz and Clayton Young finished 1-2 to qualify for Paris. They celebrated with the crowd as they made their way to the finish line. Mantz finished in a time of 2:09:05 as Young gave way near the end and finished a second behind.

Leonard Korir used a late surge to take third, but he now plays the waiting game until May to see if a third Olympic spot is unlocked on the American men's marathon side. He finished in 2:09.57, just off the time (2:08.10) he needed to guarantee a spot in the Paris Games.

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It was around 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 Celsius) at the start of the race, with temperatures climbing into the 70s. In November, officials moved up the time of the race to 10 a.m. out of weather concerns.

O'Keeffe soaked in the moment after her surprise finish.

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“I was not expecting this performance,” O'Keeffe said in a postrace interview. “I had to pinch myself with eight miles to go and be like: Stay calm. Don't freak out.'” For Sisson, it was redemption after dropping out late in the race at the marathon trials in Atlanta in February 2020. Lindwurm, a onetime goaltender on her high school ice hockey team in Minnesota, went to Florida in December to get used to the weather.

Molly Seidel, who captured Olympic bronze at the Tokyo Games, didn't take the start line because of a knee injury.

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Mantz and Young were teammates at BYU and are trained by two-time Olympic marathoner Ed Eyestone. Working together throughout the race, Mantz and Young began pulling away with about three miles remaining. Young even turned around his hat — before later ditching it — to get down to business.

Young, who had knee surgery a year ago, energized the crowd by raising his arms to generate more applause down the homestretch.

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It was their stage and they enjoyed the moment — together.

Two-time defending U.S. marathon trials champion Galen Rupp wound up in 16th place. At 47, Abdi Abdirahman was trying to make his sixth Olympic team, but he dropped out during the race.

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The course along the streets of Orlando started with a 2 1/2-mile loop before branching into three eight-mile loops on the fairly flat course. 

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Published February 4th, 2024 at 12:55 IST