Do you believe in miracles?
Meb Keflezighi, a fellow Bruin born in war-torn Eritrea, today became the first American to win the New York City Marathon in 27 years:
one of 11 siblings in a village with no electricity, Keflezighi now wears his American citizenship on his chest. He was the one American contender who wore the letters U.S.A. on his running top Sunday.
Keflezighi pointed to those letters as the Central Park crowd roared as he crossed the finish line first, capturing the first American victory since Alberto Salazar last won it in 1982. When his victory was assured, Keflezighi dropped to the ground, tears streaming down his face. It was the first marathon victory of his career and washed away years of American futility here.
“U.S.A. gave me all the opportunity in the world, education, sports, lifestyle,” Keflezighi said. “This is so special to me.”
More about the marathon here.
Eritrea, which borders Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa, isn’t a country many Americans know a lot about.
Here in Los Angeles, we have a fairly large Eritrean population, and I always enjoy talking with the chip runners and floormen at Hollywood Park, many of whom hail from the multi-ethnic country with three officials languages (Arabic, English and Tigrinya), about life there. The country is predominantly split between Muslims and Christians.