Shortly after winning the 2014 Boston Marathon, Meb Keflezighi received a call from President Barack Obama congratulating him on a job well done. Never did he imagine that he would receive a formal invitation to have dinner at the White House.
Meb and his wife, Yordanos, were on the road for speaking engagements when they received the invitation. Meb didn’t have a formal suit with him, so he went shopping in between engagements in Columbus, Ohio, before his trip to Washington, D.C.
On Tuesday night, Meb attended the White House dinner hosted by the President and First Lady following the three day U.S. Africa Leader’s Summit. The summit was aimed to strengthen ties between the United States and invest in the country’s next generation.
Although this was Meb’s third time visiting the White House, it was his first time being invited to dinner with the President. In 2000 and 2012, he visited the White House for making the U.S. Olympic team. Tuesday’s dinner guests included African diplomats, heads of state, athletes and celebrities who had the opportunity to meet to discuss the future of Africa’s relationship with the United States.
The evening was especially meaningful for Meb since he came to the United States from the war-torn African nation of Eritrea when he was a teenager. “The United States has been a big stepping stone in my life and career and has given me a lot of opportunities,” he said.
Obama recognized Meb right away when he walked in saying, “Here comes the fast guy…” They spoke about his training plan for the Boston Marathon and his weekly workout routine.
Meb and his wife sat at the Presidents table with the First Lady and 20 world diplomats. “They were down to earth and humble people,” he recalls. Meb spoke to Michelle about their kids and her program, Let’s Move, a campaign to end childhood obesity in the United States. Meb also had the opportunity to speak with former President Jimmy Carter, who sat across the table from him. He learned that Carter was an avid runner who completed half marathons and 10Ks until his late 80s.
Meb is open to exploring different roles to promote the sport of running and U.S. and international relations. He briefly met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Ambassador Pearl about being a representative for the United Nations Sport for Development and Peace to help motivate and inspire people around the world to live better lives.
Everyone involved with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series is proud to have Meb as Vice President of Running. Meb is someone who represents our sport with integrity and leadership among the world’s elite. Stick with us to see what happens next.
To view more pictures of Meb’s White House visit, follow his Facebook fan page.