Meb Keflezighi’s parents and sister huddled around a small computer screen inside their Chula Vista home.
They watched Meb take a big lead in one of the world’s premiere running events, the Boston Marathon, only to see it dwindle down to a gut-wrenching eight seconds approaching the last mile. The family prayed hard enough to be felt 2,500 miles away from the San Diego County city.
“My heart was beating and oh God, oh God, help him, help him,” said Meb’s father Russom. “I was praying and when he made it, I was excited.”
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At his home in Scripps Ranch, Meb’s brother AK also watched and prayed.
“I was kneeling down, praying, sending him positive energy,” said AK Keflezighi. “'God, help him push that last mile because I know he deserves it. I know he wants it. Nobody works harder than he does.'”
Born in Eritrea, Keflezighi became a U.S. citizen in 1998 after his family fled war to establish a new home in San Diego in 1987.
The San Diego High School and UCLA alum has won four NCAA titles, the New York City marathon in 2009, and an Olympic silver medal in 2004
Even with his record of past wins, the family knew very well the symbolic meaning of Monday’s Boston Marathon. It was more than just a race. It was a chance for America to ease the pain of last year’s tragic bombing.
“He’s a humble guy. I’m sure he was thinking of the victims that lost their lives last year,” said AK Keflezighi, Meb’s brother.
AK said that his brother wrote on his bib the names of the three victims who lost their lives near the finish line, and also the name of the security guard killed as police closed in on the bombing suspects.
“It was absolutely a glorious day. He was fantastic. From early on, I knew it was going to be special,” AK said.