Colorado’s Emma Coburn wins Olympic bronze in steeplechase

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RIO DE JANEIRO — Former University of Colorado track athlete Emma Coburn became the first American woman to win a medal in the steeplechase after earning the bronze medal on Monday morning at the Rio Olympics.

Coburn, who trains with fellow Colorado Olympian Jenny Simpson under CU track and cross country coaches Mark Wetmore and Heather Burroughs, finished the 3,000-meter event in 9 minutes, 7.63 seconds, just missing the silver medal by 0.51 of a second.

Ruth Jebet of Bahrain took gold in 8:59.75 with Hyvin KiyengJepkemoi of Kenya coming in second in 9:07.12. 

It’s the first time since 1984 that an American has won a medal in the steeplechase and Coburn is the first woman to accomplish the feat.

“I feel very honored to have that as part of my story,” she said.

Coburn was in fourth place with 700 meters to go but made a big charge and nearly took the silver, beating her American record set earlier this year.

Coburn, from Crested Butte, was an All-American at Colorado. She qualified on Saturday in 9:18.12.

“I’m so grateful,” an emotional Coburn said after the race. “My coaches believed that I could do it. And my boyfriend believed I could. I just trusted their wisdom. … I’m a little bummed I didn’t have more in the last lap to get second. But third in the world is incredible. I’m really happy.”

Coburn paraded around the track with an American flag to celebrate her bronze medal.

“Seeing my mom crying makes me so happy. They’ve been there for me through highs and lows. I just can’t wait to go hug them.”

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