Athlete Meseret Defar will be competing the half marathon of the 21st Synchrony Rock ’n’ Roll San Diego Marathon & Half Marathon on Sunday

By Don Norcross (The San Diego Union-Tribune) |

SAN DIEGO, Cal.―Meseret Defar donated her 2004 Olympic 5,000-meter gold medal to a church museum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She was 20 years old when that one was draped around her neck in Athens.

Eight years later at the London Games, Meseret Defar became the only woman to win two gold medals in the 5,000. That medal is on display in the hallway of her Addis Ababa home.

Since 2016, when knee pain prevented her from competing at the Rio de Janeiro Games — “That was the most difficult time for me.” — Meseret has focused on marathon training. It has been a difficult transition for one of Ethiopia’s most revered runners. Because of recurring knee injuries, she still has not debuted at 26.2 miles.

Come Sunday, when nearly 20,000 runners, walkers and wheelchair athletes take to the streets for the 21st Synchrony Rock ’n’ Roll San Diego Marathon & Half Marathon, Meseret will be among them.

Athlete Meseret is running the half. If her body cooperates, she hopes to make her marathon debut come fall, likely in Chicago, New York or Berlin.

Sitting at a downtown hotel lobby, having just landed after 26 hours of travel from Addis Ababa to Dublin to Washington, then to San Diego, Meseret said, “This is a very important race for me.”

Athlete Meseret’s trophy haul counts 13 world championship outdoor and indoor medals and three Olympic medals, silver at the 5,000 in 2008 accompanying the golds. She has set world records at 3,000 meters, two miles and the 5,000. She still owns the 5,000-meter road world record, set at the Carlsbad 5000 in 2006.

Continue reading this story at The San Diego Union-Tribune
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