For the second consecutive Olympic Games, CU-Boulder alums and students made a splash.
University of Colorado senior Emma Coburn raced to a top-nine finish in the finals of the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Olympic Summer Games. She followed in the footsteps of Buff Jenny (Barringer) Simpson (Econ, PolSci’09), who finished ninth in the event at the 2008 Beijing Games. CU teammate senior Shalaya Kipp did not advance to the finals as she finished 12th in the first heat of the steeplechase; finishing in 9:48.33. It was still a good run for Kipp who just wrapped up an amazing season, winning the 2012 Pac-12 and NCAA Championships and placing third at the U.S. Trials in June.
Coburn recorded a personal best in the race, clocking a time of nine minutes, 23.54 seconds, two seconds faster than her previous best. She was the top U.S. finisher, crossing the line in front of U.S. teammate Bridget Franek, who took 14th in 9:45,51. Russia’s Yuliya Zaripova won the gold medal in 9:06.72 and was closely followed by Tunisia’s Habiba Ghribi (9:08.37), who took silver, and Ethiopia’s Sofia Assefa, who won the bronze in 9:09.84.
“Overall I am happy,” Coburn said. “A personal record and finishing ninth in the Olympics is something I’m proud of, and I hope to use this and my experiences in the future to prepare myself to race these women and hopefully do better against them in the future, finish a little higher up.”
The Crested Butte, Colo. native ran a smart race after leading the majority of her preliminary race on Saturday. She tucked in and stayed with the lead pack until the top group pulled away from the field. Coburn was in eighth near the end of the race and at the finish she was just nipped by Germany’s Gesa Felicitas Krause (9:23.52).
“This was another very sound and mature race for Emma,” CU coach Mark Wetmore said. “I’m not sure if this is correct, but I heard she was the youngest member of the U.S. track team. So, to run her fastest time ever, and one of the fastest U.S. times ever, in the middle of the pressure, excitement, and distractions of this meet, is a testimony to her character.
“She exceeded all of our goals for the year. We are enormously proud of her.”
The ninth-place finish is the best finish of the games for a Buff this Olympiad and ties the best finish by a Buff in the last two Olympic Games.
Simpson placed 12th in the semifinals on her heat but did not advance to the finals. Kara Grgas-Wheeler Goucher (Psych’01) finished 11th in the women’s marathon on a rainy Monday morning in London. Dathan Ritzenhein (Hist’06) finished 13th in his 10,000-meter run at the summer Olympics. This course is more than six miles long.