PORTLAND — Galen Rupp’s American record in the 10,000 meters is both the culmination of a successful year and a jumping off point for his bid for the London Olympics.

Rupp, considered one of America’s best hopes for an Olympic medal in a distance that has been dominated for the past two decades by Ethiopians and Kenyans, set the American record in the 10,000 meters in 26 minutes, 48 seconds, at the Van Damme Memorial in Brussels last Friday.

He came in third behind Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia, who ran a season-best 26:43.16. Bekele took the lead from Kenyan Lucas Rotich with a lap to go.

During the race, Rupp tried not to pay attention to the times.

“I really tried to put it out of my head. Toward the end, I think, with about 600 meters to go, I saw what the time was. At that point I was able to kind of figure out that I was on pace to do something special.”

Rupp’s time surpassed Chris Solinsky’s American record set last year by a full 11 seconds.

Rupp, a Portland native who ran track at Oregon, has steadily improved since the Beijing Olympics. His new record is a full 22 seconds faster than his previous personal best, set last year.

“I’m there at the end of races now. Two years ago it was hang on as long as you can. Now is the fun part where I’m going to be there at the end,” Rupp said. 

Next year he’ll be back in the city known as Track Town USA for the U.S. Olympic trials. A top-three finish would earn him a trip to London.

“I’ve got high goals and high expectations for myself,” he said. 

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