Jager triumphs on the track as U.S. wins first men’s steeplechase medal since 1984
Provided by USATF
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL -- Ending a 32-year medal drought in the men’s 3000m steeplechase, American record holder Evan Jager (Algonquin, Illinois) ran a masterful race to earn silver and become the first American man to medal in the event since Brian Diemer in 1984. Four athletes advanced out of their respective track qualifying rounds Wednesday morning, while reigning Olympic champion Ashton Eaton (Bend, Oregon) began his gold medal defense in the men’s decathlon.
Jager races to silver in men’s steeple
Jager, the American record holder, was second behind Kenya’s Conseslus Kipruto through the first kilometer in 2:41.64, with Hillary Bor (Colorado Springs, Colorado) in 6th. Jager took over the lead as the pace slowed a bit over the next 1K and Bor moved up to fourth. Passing 2K in 5:25.82, Jager continued to hold the top spot with reigning Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi of Kenya closing in on him and Kipruto.
Coming to the bell lap, Kipruto and Kemboi pulled away from Jager and led the way to the final water jump. By then, Kipruto was clear, and Jager came even with Kemboi. Digging deep over the last 100m, Jager passed the two-time Olympic champion and drew ever nearer to a celebrating Kipruto, but the Kenyan’s lead was too big and he set an Olympic record of 8:03.28. Jager crossed in 8:04.28, also under the previous Olympic record.
Jager’s silver was also the highest placing for the U.S. since Horace Ashenfelter won in 1952, and his time was almost 10 seconds better than the previous fastest American performance at the Games. Bor finished well to set a lifetime best of 8:22.74 in eighth, and Donn Cabral (Glastonbury, Connecticut) was ninth in 8:25.81.
Wilson, Grace through to women’s 800m semis
Kazakhstan’s Margarita Mukasheva bolted to the lead halfway through the first lap of heat two and dragged the field through 400m in 58.23, with Ajee’ Wilson (Neptune Township, New Jersey) behind her at just over 60.0. Wilson and South Africa’s Caster Semenya took over after Mukasheva led through 600m in 1:29.40, and those two were accompanied by Britain’s Shelayna Oskan-Clarke. Semenya moved ahead off the curve, with Wilson on her shoulder, and that duo finished 1-2 to take the auto qualifying spots. Wilson’s 1:59.44 was a season best.
2013 World champion Eunice Sum of Kenya led heat five through 400m in 58.40. Olympic Trials champion Kate Grace (Sacramento, California) was sixth and stayed in that position through 600m, which Sum passed in 1:29.58. Making her move slingshotting off the final curve, Grace sprinted forward and finished third in 1:59.96, missing an auto qualifier by .05 seconds but snagging a time qualifier.
Fast-starting Natoya Goule of Jamaica set the pace in the eighth and final heat, covering the first lap in 58.46. Chrishuna Williams (Dallas, Texas) was sixth at that point, and she stayed there through 600m, where Francine Niyonsaba led at 1:29.19. Williams couldn’t pick off any more places in front of her and finished sixth in 2:01.19 and did not advance to the semifinal.
Lagat and Chelimo navigate safely to men’s 5,000m final
Apart from a couple of adventurous runners, the early pace in heat one of the men’s 5000 was slow and the extra-large field played tap and trip for much of the first seven laps. Bernard Lagat (Tucson, Arizona) and Hassan Mead (Eugene, Oregon) contented themselves with staying in the top 10 as Hagos Gebrhiwet of Ethiopia led through 3K in 8:15.11. Over the next kilometer the pace picked up and Lagat and Mead kept tabs on favorite and defending champion Mo Farah of Britain. Coming into the bell lap, Lagat and Mead made moves to be in the vicinity of one of the five automatic qualifying spots. With 250m to go, Farah cut in front of Mead, sending the American tumbling to the track. Mead got up but could only watch as the leaders ran away from him, and Lagat used the wisdom of his 41 years to finish fifth in 13:26.02 to advance. Mead crossed the line in 13:34.27 in 13th.
The pace in the second heat was much quicker, and Paul Chelimo (Beaverton, Oregon) put himself safely in fourth for 3K behind leader Elroy Gelant of South Africa, who crossed in 8:05.00. A pack that had stretched out a bit started to bunch up through the following three laps and Chelimo drifted back to a spot behind the top 10. Chelimo saw an opening with one lap to go and started reeling in the men in front of him over the final circuit, stepping on the accelerator enough to win the heat in 13:19.54, a lifetime best.
Eaton leads through three events as the world’s greatest athlete begins title defense
Reigning champion and world record holder Ashton Eaton (Bend, Oregon) had a 195-point lead over Damian Warner of Canada after the first three events of the decathlon, topping the table with 2,803 points.
Warner struck the first blow by winning the 100m in 10.30, with Eaton second in 10.46, but a big long jump of 7.94m/26-0.75 lifted Eaton back atop the point standings. Eaton gained even more ground on his Canadian rival with a 14.73m/48-4 shot put toss, his longest throw ever in an international championship.
Both other U.S. decathletes finished the morning session in the top 10. Jeremy Taiwo (Renton, Washington) had a season-best 14.92m/48-11.5 in the shot put and was ninth overall with 2,565 points, while Zach Ziemek (Itasca, Illinois) was 10th with 2,552 following three solid individual event performances.
Decathlon Day 1 - Standings
U.S. athletes after 100m: 2. Eaton (985); 3. Ziemek (926); 20. Taiwo (858)
U.S. athletes after LJ: 1. Eaton (2,030); 5. Ziemek (1,858); 15. Taiwo (1,780)
U.S. athletes after SP: 1. Eaton (2,803); 9. Taiwo (2,565); 10. Ziemek (2,552)
Tough day of qualifying for men’s hammer throwers
None of the three U.S. men in the hammer advanced to the final, with the best effort coming from Conor McCullough (Canoga Park, California) in Group B at 72.88m/239-1. McCullough finished 16th overall, two places ahead of Rudy Winkler (Sand Lake, New York), who had a best of 71.89m/235-10 in Group A. Kibwé Johnson (Suwanee, Georgia) did not register a legal throw in Group A.
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WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 17 (all times ET)
8:00 p.m. – Midnight
TEAM USA MEDAL TABLE
Michelle Carter, Women’s SP, 20.63m/67-8.25 AR (8/12)
Jeffrey Henderson, Men’s LJ, 8.38m/27-6 (8/13)
Christian Taylor, Men’s TJ, 17.86m/58-7.25 (8/16)
Tori Bowie, Women’s 100m, 10.83 (8/13)
Justin Gatlin, Men’s 100m, 9.89 (8/14)
Allyson Felix, Women’s 400m, 49.51 (8/15)
Will Claye, Men’s TJ, 17.76m/58-3.25 (8/16)
Evan Jager, Men’s 3000m Steeple, 8:04.28 (8/17)
LaShawn Merritt, Men’s 400m, 43.85 (8/14)
Emma Coburn, Women’s 3000m Steeple, 9:07.63 AR (8/15)
Clayton Murphy, Men’s 800m, 1:42.93 (8/15)
Sam Kendricks, Men’s PV, 5.85m/19-2.5 (8/15)
Jenny Simpson, Women’s 1500m, 4:10.53 (8/16)