Abdi Abdirahman is an athlete competing in track and field at the 2012 London Summer Olympics for the USA.

12 years after becoming an American citizen, Abdi Abdirahman will represent his adopted homeland at the Olympics for the fourth time. He competed in the 10,000m during his first three Games, finishing 10th in Sydney, 15th in Athens, and 15th again in Beijing. In January 2012, he qualified for his first Olympic team in the marathon.

Abdirahman entered the U.S. Olympic Trials with the third-fastest personal-best time at 2:08:56, but his time away from running due to injury had him flying below everyone's radar of favorites. But a healthy Abdirahman put himself in the mix from the get go and by Mile 18 was one of three remaining runners at the front of the race. He wound up finishing third in 2:09:47 behind Meb Keflezighi (2:09:08) and Ryan Hall (2:09:30).

While Abdirahman was preparing for the Olympic Trials Marathon, he returned from a pre-Christmas training run just west of Tucson and found out that his SUV had vanished. It was stolen and never found.

After competing in the Healthy Kidney 10-K in New York in April of 2010, Abdirahman suffered a stress reaction in his right femur. The injury eventually developed into a full fracture and knocked him out of the remainder of 2010 and all of 2011. "It was the longest I have ever gone without running," Abdirahman said. "I usually take off three weeks out of the year and during that time I start going stir crazy. Even when I am not running I go run like two or three miles, just to feel better. I couldn't even do that, and it messes with your head.

The 2009 season saw Abdirahman compete on the roads and on the track at multiple distances. On the track, he finished eighth in the 10,000m at the USA Outdoor Championships in 28:35.79 and fourth in the 5000m in Huesden in 13:26.27. On the roads, he won the U.S. 10-K championship in 28:11 and the U.S. 10-mile title in 46:35, and finished ninth in the ING New York City Marathon in 2:14:00.

In 2008, Abdirahman repeated as national champion in the 10,000m, winning the U.S. Olympic Trials for the first time in 27:41.11. He led the race from wire to wire to punch his ticket to Beijing and earn the third Olympic berth of his career. At the Olympics, Abdirahman was again unable to break into the Top 10 in the 10,000m, finishing 15th for the second Games in a row with a time of 27:52.53.

After competing in the 10,000m in his first two Olympics, Abdirahman tried qualifying for Beijing in the men's marathon. He went into the U.S. Olympic Team Trials marathon in November with nagging shin injuries, which took their toll midway through the race, forcing him to drop out. Highlighting Abdirahman's 2007 season was a 10,000m win at the U.S. Outdoor Championships and a win July 4 at the U.S. Men's 10-K Championship in Atlanta.

Within the running community, Abdirahman is affectionately known as The Black Cactus, a nickname with origins dating back to before the 2006 Chicago Marathon, in which he ran his personal best of 2:08:56. "I came back from Europe, and me and my neighbor were talking over a glass of tea," Abdirahman explained. "He said, 'You need a nickname.' I said, 'What kind of nickname can I get? 'He came up with a couple that didn't work. So then I went and talked to Coach (Dave) Murray and he thought about it, and the next day he called me and goes, 'How about Black Cactus?' That just stuck on me. I came back to Flagstaff the next day, and I was staying with Greg McMillan at the time. I told him, 'Hey, Greg I got a new nickname.' He asked what it was and I said, 'The Black Cactus,' and he just started laughing. From there he started calling me Black Cactus and we started telling everyone in Flagstaff about being Black Cactus and the name just took off."

At the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials, Abdirahman finished second to his friend Meb Keflezighi to qualify for Athens. Abdirahman somewhat struggled in 2003, finishing seventh at Nationals in the 5000m and fifth in the 10,000m. Keflezighi also edged Abdirahman at the 2002 Nationals by 1.5 seconds. Abdirahman and Keflezighi discussed strategy beforehand, and agreed to stay together until the final two laps. At that point, they said, whoever felt good was supposed to go for it. "If he wins, I win; if I win, he wins," Abdirahman said. The two have been friends since 1997.

In 1999, as a permanent resident of the U.S. in the process of obtaining citizenship, Abdirahman competed at Nationals, where he placed third in the 10,000m and set a personal record. He earned a tentative berth on the World Championships team, but did not become a citizen in time to compete in Seville in August. Sworn in as an American citizen in January 2000, he first competed in U.S. colors at the World Cross-Country Championships that March, placing 45th in the long course (12,000m) race.

Born in Somalia, Abdirahman and his family moved to the United States in 1990 to escape civil war. The conflict, among several of the nation's tribes, made front page news in December 1992, when U.S. troops were sent to help preserve peace and distribute food. Abdirahman was adamantly in favor of the American intervention. His father, Mahamed, worked as a production head for Conoco, an American oil company. The position put him in great danger, so the family moved to the U.S. and settled in Tucson, Arizona. Abdirahman has not returned to Somalia since coming to the U.S., but plans to do so at some point.

Abdirahman did not begin running until the end of 1996, during his second year at Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona. He says, "I just wanted to do something." He ran 15:20 in his first 5000m race and decided to continue with the sport. He transferred to the University of Arizona in 1997, and in the spring of 1998 won two Pan-10 titles. He graduated from Arizona in 2000 with a degree in retail consumer studies.

Abdirahman idolizes Billy Mills, the Native American who unexpectedly won the gold medal in the 10,000m at the 1964 Olympics (he remains the last American to win a medal in the event) and whose story is told in the movie "Running Brave." For a period, he says he watched the movie almost every day. When Abdirahman stepped onto the podium after taking third at the 2000 U.S. Trials, Mills presented the awards.


How tall is he? How old is he? Where does he live? Find out here.

Age: 38 years old
Birthday: December 2, 1978
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 130 lbs.
Birthplace: Mogadishu, Somalia
Hometown: Tucson, AZ
Current Residence: Tucson, AZ

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