Sketchers, the California-based shoe company, announced Monday that it had signed Meb Keflezighi, the 2009 New York City Marathon champion and an Olympic medalist, to a surprising one-year sponsorship agreement. Known for it's knock-offs and controversial Shape-Up shoes, the deal is notable for Sketchers, which had not previously marketed its products to runners, and for Keflezighi, whose long-term endorsement contract with Nike ended last year. Keflezighi will represent Sketchers through at least August 2012, meaning that he could wear the company's shoes in the 2012 London Olympic Marathon should he qualify in January for the U.S. team. Uniquely among pro runners, Keflezighi has show a willingness to represent companies, including Sony and drink maker Generation Ucan, outside the major shoe manufacturers. In 2009, Keflezighi became the first American man in 27 years to win the New York City Marathon, a race he will contest again in November.
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