LONDON — Team USATF made a splash by having its biggest distance-running medal haul in generations at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. But nothing, it seems, prepared the track world for the stunning 1-2 finish in the women’s steeplechase by Olympic Bronze Medalist Emma Coburn and teammate Courtney Frerichs Friday night at the IAAF World Championships in London.
There were two stars and stripes flying on the lap of the hour and two US stars earning their global stripes as they took flight on the final lap of a truly stunning race.
The sound of the bell was like a clarion call to action for Emma Coburn, who took Olympic bronze in Rio last year, and her US teammate Courtney Frerichs. By that stage in proceedings, Kenya’s world leader Celliphine Chespol had been dropped and Ruth Jebet, Bahrain’s world record-holder and Olympic champion, was starting to fade.
Kenya’s defending champion Hyvin Kiyeng was still in the hunt but she too was burned off and the US duo surged off the final water jump and up the home straight.
In an event usually dominated by Kenyans, Coburn’s strong finish in a championship and American record of 9:2.58 secured the first global gold for the United States in the event since 1952. “This feels like…I’m speechless. she said. I thought on a perfect day I could sneak in for a medal. Joe (Bosshard, her fiance and coach) kept telling me anything was possible and kept reminding me of all the hard workouts I’ve done.”
Frerichs took the silver in 9:03.77, a personal best by a staggering 15.42. Hyvin Jepkemoi bagged the bronze medal in 9:04.03.