Coburn, Frerichs complete shock U.S. one-two in steeplechase
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[August 12, 2017]
By Christian Radnedge
LONDON (Reuters) - Emma Coburn and
Courtney Frerichs stunned the World Championships by winning gold
and silver in a dramatic women's 3,000 meters steeplechase final on
Friday, the first Americans to get medals in the event.
The duo were not counted among the outright favorites heading to
London, although Coburn did win bronze at the Olympics last year.
The woman who beat her to gold in Rio was world record holder Ruth
Jebet of Bahrain, who led at the 1000m and 2000m splits. But going
into the final lap, Jebet faded and was overtaken by the Americans
and Kenyans Hyvin Jepkemoi and Beatrice Chepkoech.
The leading pack was heavily congested heading into the last 200
But Coburn launched herself over the final water jump in a daring
move that led to her surging down the final straight to win in a
Championship record time of 9 minutes 2.58 seconds.
"Oh my goodness, what a race to be part of," she said. "I have
memories from 2015 and 2016 where I went too early for the last
push, so I just had to keep trusting myself and be patient, and it
looks like it paid off.
"I never expected to win in that time but I kept pressing. It is
pretty amazing to get a championship record.
"I just expected the others to finish quickly, so I just kept
pushing to make sure I got that gold that I wanted so much."
She is the first American athlete since Horace Ashenfelter, who won
gold at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, to win a global title in the
Frerichs finished in 9:03.77 to complete a brilliant one-two for the
U.S. and smash her own personal best by 16 seconds. Both women's
times were well under the American national record, set by Coburn at
the Olympics last year.
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Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs of the U.S. celebrate wining the
gold and silver medals. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
"I would never have believed this could happen. Maybe
fifth or sixth, but silver? Wow, I am shocked. This is an absolute
dream," Frerichs said.
"I felt like the crowd gave me a lot of energy and lifted me to my
greatest ever performance."
Team USA will go home feeling like they have upset the 3,000m
steeplechase status quo, with Coburn and Frerichís medals adding to
Evan Jagerís landmark bronze in the menís event on Tuesday.
That fact was not unnoticed by Jepkemoi, the 2015 champion, who
claimed the bronze medal in an event usually dominated by Africans.
"I am very happy to win the bronze medal. The Americans went very
fast, as you saw with the championship record. I did all I could to
win that race but they were stronger," she said.
Jepkemoi finished ahead of Chepkoech who recovered impressively from
a bizarre mishap on the first lap when she forgot to take the water
jump and had to go back round to complete it before catching up with
(Editing by Ed Osmond)
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