American distance runner Galen Rupp might attempt a unique double at the Rio Olympics.
The 2012 Olympics silver medalist in the 10,000 metres announced on Thursday that he will compete in the United States Olympic marathon trials next month in Los Angeles. It will be the first competitive marathon he has ever run.
Rupp is a heavy favorite to lead the US team in the 10,000m, his specialty, and also hopes to qualify in the 5,000m at the Olympic trials in Oregon in July. Should he make the cut in all three, he would pick from two events to race in Brazil.
"I would say that the 10K is still my primary focus so I'll definitely be running that later in the spring," Rupp told the USA Track and Field website.
"Really it just comes down to what I think I have a better chance in as a second event, whether it's the 5K or the marathon. Obviously you've got to run the trials to qualify so I'm going to do that for the marathon and we'll see later this spring how things go with my speed and training."
Rupp, 29, qualified for the February 13 marathon trials by finishing a half-marathon in Portland, Oregon, last month in only 80 seconds over an hour.
He said he always expected to transition to marathons, but the long-term plan was to wait until after Rio to do so. However, his coach Alberto Salazar raised the possibility of an earlier jump last year and urged Rupp to keep an open mind. He did, and said he is now "excited to run it".
Rupp faces a significant challenge in his quest for gold at any of those distances. His training partner Mo Farah won the 5,000m and 10,000m before an adoring home crowd in London in 2012, and Rupp will have to contend with top American marathoner Meb Keflezighi among others in the longer discipline.
A report released in 2015 by ProPublica and the BBC accused Rupp and Salazar of doping. Salazar posted a meticulous of the allegations, saying Rupp has been diagnosed with asthma, allergies and a thyroid disease and has made the US Anti-Doping Agency aware of all of his treatment.