Saturday, August 18, 2012

Olympic Steeplechase Recap

Coburn running in CU kit at the Trials
This year's Olympics were sweeeeet, and the US distance contingent was the strongest to suit up since at least the '84 Games in Los Angeles. With this in mind I wanted to look back at a few of the races and draw some context over previous Olympic years - beginning with the Steeplechase.

Fronting the women's team was Emma Coburn (two time National Champion) and Shalaya Kipp, both collegiates from the University of Colorado (Waddup!). Coburn made the finals - along with the third member of team USA, Bridget Franek - and ran to a 9th place finish in a personal best time of 9min 23s. Results here. (Race video here - beginning at 2:26:30).Coburn redshirted her senior year of eligibility at CU to train exclusively for London. It's the second straight Olympics that the top American Steeplechaser hails from CU (U.S. record holder Jenny Simpson in '08).

Jager and Cabral drive the early pace
In the men's race, the top American was U.S. record holder Evan Jager running in just the seventh steeple race of his career. He knocked out a very respectable 6th place finish (8:23.87, best US finish since 1996), followed closely by recent Princeton graduate Dan Cabral in 8th (8:25.91). Both Americans were in the lead group at the bell but fell well off pace in a blistering final lap. Results here. The race was dominated by the '04 Gold Medalist and double world champ Ezekiel Kemboi of Kenya who toyed with the field in the heats, then celebrated this win with his usual lane-7 finish followed with some memorable dancing on the track (Race video here - beginning at 2:48:40).

An incredible observation: Kenya has won steeplechase gold in every Olympic year they've sent a team going back to 1968 (African boycott in '76; Soviet boycott in 1980). That's 44 years. Below is some video of the finish in '68. The leader on the final turn  is none other than Silver City's George Young, who finished in bronze.

1968 Olympic Steeplechase Final - Mexico City

2012 London Olympics 
 - Olympic 800m Recap
 - Olympic 1500m Recap
 - Olympic 3000m Steeplechase Recap
 - Olympic 5000m Recap
 - Olympic 10,000m Recap
 - Olympic Marathon Recap
 - Week One: The Olympic Vortex

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