Meb Keflezighi of the USA celebrates after winning the 40th running of the mens race in the ING New York City Marathon.
Meb Keflezighi became the first American man to win the New York City Marathon since 1982 on Sunday.
Keflezighi, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist, learned after a disappointing performance in the U.S. Olympic trials in New York two years ago he had a stress fracture in his hip. He capped the long and painful comeback with a landmark victory against a deep field for his first major marathon title.
That day in 2007 he also lost close friend Ryan Shay, who collapsed and died during the race. Keflezighi said the tears he shed after winning were for Shay.
Born in Eritrea, the 34-year-old became a U.S. citizen in 1998. He was second in New York in 2004 and third in 2005. Wearing "USA" on his chest, Keflezighi won in 2 hours, 9 minutes, 15 seconds.
"The USA gave me all the opportunities there is in education, sports and lifestyle," he said. "To be able to represent the USA is a big thing for me."
Keflezighi pulled away from Robert Cheruiyot of Kenya in the 23rd mile to beat the four-time Boston Marathon champ by 41 seconds. Alberto Salazar had been the last American men's champion, taking three straight titles from 1980-82.
Morocco's Jaouad Gharib finished third and Ryan Hall was fourth on an impressive day for U.S. distance running, with six Americans in the top 10 for the first time since 1979. The race doubled at the national men's marathon championship.
Russian Ludmila Petrova, 41, was the runner-up for the second straight year in the women's race, while Christelle Daunay of France was third.
Radcliffe said she had tendinitis behind her knee. The world record-holder from Britain failed to win a marathon for just the third time in 11 starts.
The 37-year-old Tulu won Olympic gold medals on the track in the 10,000 meters in 1992 and 2000. She hadn't won a major marathon since 2001 in London.
Nearly 44,000 runners started the 40th edition of the race Sunday.
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