Olympics-O'Keeffe relying on support team after shock U.S. marathon trials win


American long-distance runner Fiona O'Keeffe poses for a portrait during the Team USA media summit ahead of the Paris Olympics and Paralympics, at an event in New York, U.S., April 16, 2024. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fiona O'Keeffe is leaning on her coaches and support crew after an astonishing win at the U.S. Olympic marathon trials sees her leading the American charge for the podium in Paris.

The 25-year-old was the youngest-ever competitor to win the U.S. trials as she broke the tape in an event record time of two hours 22 minutes and 10 seconds, stunning pundits and armchair experts alike in her first career marathon.

"I woke up that morning, like actually feeling fairly calm because it felt like there was nothing to lose," she told reporters on Tuesday at the Team USA media summit in New York.

"I wasn't coming in with a target on my back or anything. It was just like an opportunity to see what all the training I put in would translate to."

O'Keeffe, the first woman to win the U.S. trials in a marathon debut, said making an Olympic team went from a far-fetched dream to an outright goal only a couple of years ago.

She will rely on the experience of husband-and-wife coaching duo Alistair and Amy Cragg - the latter of whom won the U.S. trials herself in 2016 - and will add a couple of shorter races onto her schedule before the Paris Games to keep herself fresh.

O'Keeffe also plans to incorporate altitude training into her routine while coming to terms with her rapid ascent to the greatest heights of her sport.

"It's definitely been, an adjustment. I've been just, like, leaning on, my support crew a lot," she said.

"My coaches, my agent, my team mates. I'm very grateful to be part of a good team."

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York)

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