Team USATF shocks distance world with 1-2 finish in women’s steeple

Team USATF shocks distance world with 1-2 finish in women’s steeple

Provided by USATF

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 Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs Friday night at the IAAF World Championships in London.

With the win, Coburn set a championship record and American record and became the first American since Hall of Famer Horace Ashenfelter in 1952 to win a steeplechase gold in a global championship. It also marks the first time in history Americans have gone 1-2 in an Olympic or World Championships steeplechase. Equally stunning was a more than 15-second personal best for Frerichs, whose time broke the previous championship and American records.

Combined with a 1-3 finish by Brittney Reese and Tianna Bartoletta in the women’s long jump, it was Team USATF’s women at center stage at Queen Elizabeth Park Olympic Stadium, earning four medals on the night to bring the American medal count to 23 after eight days of competition.

Coburn, Frerichs run under championship and American records in stunning 1-2 steeple

The steeple final will undoubtedly go down as one of the most dramatic, eventful, and at times chaotic races in history. The race went out at an easy pace, with Coburn (Crested Butte, Colorado) hugging the rail behind Kenyan Beatrice Chepkoech in the lead.

Over the first water jump, havoc reigned. Rather than veer left to take the water jump, Chepkoech stayed on the track and ran past the jump, while one runner fell into the water. She quickly retraced her steps, but world record holder Ruth Jebet of Bahrain seized the moment to ratchet up the pace. Chepkoech was eventually able to rejoin the lead pack comprised of Jebet, Celliphine Chespol and Hyvin Jepkemoi of Kenya, Coburn and Frerichs (Nixa, Missouri). The two Americans sat comfortably in fifth and sixth, well ahead of the rest of the field.

That gap came in handy when two more runners fell over the backstretch hurdle a few laps later. Oblivious to the falls in their wake, Jebet started to stretch the pack out with two laps to go, dropping Chespol and leaving Jebet, Chepkoech, Coburn and Frerichs to battle for medals. Jebet led at the bell, but began to fall off the pace. Chepkoech jumped to the lead, but Frerichs led Coburn in a big move down the backstretch and Chepkoech began to falter, giving way to Jepkemoi.

Making the turn for the final water jump, Coburn cut to the inside of Jepkemoi to take the barrier first. Frerichs surged past the Kenyan through the water, and Team USATF was 1-2 coming down the stretch. Both women held their form and sprinted to the finish. Coburn raised her arms in victory in a record time of 9:02.58, followed by Frerichs clutching her head in disbelief, a silver medal won in 9:03.77 - a personal best by 15.32 seconds. Jepkemoi finished third in 9:04.03.

Reese leaps into history with fourth World title

Reese (Gulfport, Mississippi) continued to rewrite women’s long jump history, winning her fourth IAAF World Outdoor title and her eighth global title overall, including Olympics and World Indoors. With the win, she became only the second woman to win four world outdoor titles in a single event after shot putter Valerie Adams of New Zealand, and Bartoletta’s bronze made it the first time in history that the U.S. won multiple women’s long jump medals at a single World Championships.

Jumping with a tribute to her recently deceased grandfather written on the back of her bib, she had a modest 6.75m/22-1.75 on her first jump, fouled on her second, then moved into first place with her third jump of 7.02m/23-0.50. That mark held as the gold-medal jump through the next three rounds as Reese fouled on each of her final three attempts.

Reigning world and Olympic champion Tianna Bartoletta (Elyria, Ohio) had trouble finding the board - often taking off far behind it - and moved from sixth to fourth on her fifth jump with a mark of 6.88m/22-7. Awaiting her final attempt, she was held on the runway while the men’s hammer throw finalists were announced in-stadium. When finally cleared to jump, she had her best mark of the night, 6.97m/22-10.5, to move into third by just 1 centimeter. Ivana Spanovic appeared to have a big mark over 7m on her last jump, but it measured 6.91m/22-8, assuring Bartoletta of the bronze.

Stevens, Duncan go 5-6 in 200m final

Rain began to fall shortly before introductions began for the final event of the evening. Both Deajah Stevens (Bayside, New York) and Kimberlyn Duncan (Katy, Texas) were in lanes outside the favorites, Stevens in 7 and Duncan in 9. Defending world champion Dafne Schippers of Holland and Marie-Josee Ta Lou of Cote d’Ivoire blasted to the front and were well clear off the turn, leaving Stevens and Duncan to play catch-up. Stevens had the best finish of the American duo, taking fifth in 22.44, .15 seconds ahead of Duncan, while Schippers added another global gold to her collection in 22.05. Ta Lou set a national record of 22.08 to take silver.

Red, white & blue final for women’s 100H

Americans will occupy exactly half of the eight lanes of the hurdles final, with all four women advancing - though not without a bit of drama.

Nia Ali (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) knocked over the first hurdle but recovered nicely to place second in the first semifinal in 12.79. Christina Manning (Waldorf, Maryland) burst out of the blocks with a lead starting with the first stride and breezed to an easy win of 12.71 in heat 2.

In the third semi, world record holder Keni Harrison (Clayton, North Carolina) smashed into the first hurdle and all but killed her momentum. Meanwhile, Dawn Harper Nelson (East St. Louis, Illinois) got out well and ran a clean race to win in 12.63. Harrison rallied - and hit the penultimate hurdle - to place third in 12.86 and sneak into the final as the last time qualifier.

Wilson, Lipsey advance to 800 final

American record holder Ajee’ Wilson (Neptune, New Jersey) left nothing to chance en route to qualifying for the women’s 800 final. She led the first semifinal wire to wire, towing the field through the 400 in 57.8 and bringing it home strong to win in 1:59.21. Charlene Lipsey (Hempstead, New York) made it an honest race in the second semifinal by taking the lead 200m into the race, with Olympic champion Caster Semenya of South Africa lurking back in fourth. Semenya came up on her shoulder over the final bend, an Lipsey tried to keep pace. Down the stretch, Semenya pulled away while Lipsey held on to place third in a brisk 1:59.35 and qualify on time.

Brenda Martinez (Rancho Cucamonga, California) ran conservatively in heat 3, sitting in the top third of a tightly packed field before finding daylight on the inside rail down the homestretch. Down the straight, she tried to sneak past Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Margaret Wambui of Kenya, the Olympic silver and bronze medalists, respectively. Martinez finished third in 2:01.31; running in the slowest of the three races, she did not qualify for the final based on time.

Gregorek sprints into 1500m final

Just like in the heats, Johnny Gregorek (Seekonk, Massachusetts) left it to the very last step to advance to the next round, finishing seventh in the second semi in 3:38.68 to nab the last time qualifying berth in the final. Gregorek ran on the rail in fifth as the field went out slowly, falling back to 11th with 2 laps to go, passing 800m in just over 2:00. Last at the bell, he kicked hard and started moving past the back markers with 200m to go. Around the final bend Gregorek hit top gear and sprinted down the stretch, swinging wide into lane 4.

Robby Andrews (Manalapan, New Jersey) hung out in the back of the pack through a slow first 400m in 62.54. Staying back and out of trouble after a very physical first round on Thursday, he started to pick up the pace, going through 800m in 2:03.9. Disaster struck with 450m to go as Andrews pulled up, limping to the inside of the track after suffering what was later diagnosed as a calf strain.

Hardee leads Team USATF decathletes following Day 1

Closing out day 1 of the decathlon, former two-time world champ Trey Hardee (Hiram, Georgia) threw 15.16m/49-9 in the shot put (800), cleared 1.99m/6-6.25 in the high jump (794) and ran 48.78 in the 400 (872) to total 4,313 points and occupy fifth place.

Devon Williams (Kennesaw, Georgia) had 14.43m/47-4.25 in shot (755), 1.96m/6-5 in the high jump (676), and 48.11 in the 400 (904) for 4,222 points and 11th place. Zach Ziemek (Itasca, Illinois) had 14.01m/45-11.75 in the shot (729), 1.99m/6-6.25 in the high jump (794), and 50.32 (800) in the 400 for 4,019 points and 22nd place.

Team USATF continues competition on the morning of August 12 at Olympic Stadium in London. Fans can follow along with #TeamUSATF at #IAAFWorlds on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. Full TV and webcast viewing times can be found here.

HELP TEAM USATF GIVE BACK: After a 32-medal winning performance at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Team USATF has joined forces with the American Cancer Society to raise money for the fight against cancer. Celebrate the success of Team USATF at the 2017 IAAF World Championships by making a pledge for every medal Team USATF wins in London! To make a pledge and to watch a PSA featuring Christian Taylor and cancer survivor Gabe Grunewald, visit


Gold (8)

Justin Gatlin, Men’s 100m, 9.92 (8/5)

Tori Bowie, Women’s 100m, 10.85 (8/6)

Sam Kendricks, Men’s Pole Vault, 5.95m/19-6.25 (8/8)

Phyllis Francis, Women’s 400m, 49.92 (8/9)

Kori Carter, Women’s 400m Hurdles, 53.07 (8/10)

Christian Taylor, Men’s Triple Jump, 17.68m/58-0.25 (8/10)

Brittney Reese, Women’s Long Jump, 7.02m/23-0.5 (8/11)

Emma Coburn, Women’s 3000m Steeplechase, 9:02.58 AR (8/11)

Silver (8)

Jarrion Lawson, Men’s Long Jump, 8.44m/27-8.25 (8/5)

Christian Coleman, Men’s 100m, 9.94 (8/5)

Sandi Morris, Women’s Pole Vault, 4.75m/15-7 (8/6)

Joe Kovacs, Men’s Shot Put, 21.66/71-0.75 (8/6)

Jenny Simpson, Women’s 1500m, 4:02.76 (8/7)

Dalilah Muhammad, Women’s 400m Hurdles, 53.50 (8/10)

Will Claye, Men’s Triple Jump, 17.63m/57-6.25 (8/10)

Courtney Frerichs, Women’s 3000m Steeplechase, 9:03.77 (8/11)

Bronze (7)

Mason Finley, Men’s Discus Throw, 68.03m/223-2 (8/5)

Amy Cragg, Women’s Marathon, 2:27:18 (8/6)

Evan Jager, Men’s 3000m Steeplechase, 8:15.53 (8/8)

Michelle Carter, Women’s Shot Put, 19.14m/62-9.5 (8/9)

Kerron Clement, Men’s 400m Hurdles, 48.52 (8/9)

Allyson Felix, Women’s 400m, 50.08 (8/9)

Tianna Bartoletta, Women’s Long Jump, 6.97m/22-10.5 (8/11)


Note: for additional video quotes, see USATF’s Instagram feed.

Women’s 3000m Steeplechase Final

Emma Coburn: “This feels like...I'm speechless. 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. I've been really healthy this year and have been running well and training well. As we all know, I came in ranked sixth on time and ranked fifth of the finalists, and I knew I had to have a perfect day to get on the podium. The whole race I felt strong and controlled and powerful, and I kept waiting and waiting for it to feel bad and it never did. In 2015 and 2016, I got burned the last water jump; I was in a battle with someone and came out last and in 2015, that made me lose a medal position. Joe kept telling me that last 150m, that last water jump, be really powerful and use all the good form I know I could do. So I saved that last gear and I thought I had a good water [jump] and I came out feeling strong in that last 100m. I just kicked and I was waiting for someone to come up and steal it from me and no one did. (On if she knew it was Courtney behind her) Oh yeah, I look up on the jumbotron and I could see her on my shoulder. With 300m to go, she was ahead of me. That's an extra layer of motivation. I know that Courtney is good and the Bowerman group is having a hell of a meet this year. I'm fit, but it definitely helps when you have a friend or someone you race enough to where you know if she's there, I should be there for sure. It provided an extra layer of motivation and she and I just felt really good. Seeing the time, I was super surprised and happy about [it]. I just said a lot of words for someone who said she was speechless. (On Rio Olympics vs. London Worlds) I ran a lot of [Rio] in no-man's land in hot, tough conditions. This race was the opposite. It felt great and I was waiting for it to feel bad. I don't know which is more satisfying as an athlete: when you have to overcome a battle in a race and you get through it and do well, or when it comes easy and you look at the clock and you're the world champion with a big PR. Both races were pretty perfect days for me. It's hard to say which is more perfect, but I'm so happy.”

Courtney Frerichs: “I kind of feel like I’m dreaming. Someone may need to pinch me. Jerry (Schumacher, her coach) and Pascal (Dobert, assistant coach) told me to go with Emma. They sat me down yesterday. They said you looked great in that prelim, you’re super fit. We’d been practicing Ks (1 kilometer splits) at 3:00 flat so I knew 7:09.10 was a possibility. Going out with her there was just a level of comfort, I think for both of us. I think both of us know the last 800, last 400 are our strongest of the race. If we were in it, there’s a chance. I don’t know, I just felt like something special was happening and I just went for it in the last lap. I’m just kind of in shock at the moment. We knew at USA’s we felt like the gap was closing between her and I. I think today I wanted to take a risk and go for it with her. We knew she was going to run smart and that she was going to handle the tactics that the Kenyans, Jebet and all of them put out there. I just trusted that Jerry was going to be right. He told me to trust him on this one. He hasn’t failed me yet, so I did.”

Women’s Long Jump Final

Brittney Reese: “What a night. I’m real ecstatic today. I came out here with a mission, that was to get gold for my grandfather, and I’m glad I did that. My grandfather (King David Dunomes) passed away a couple of weeks ago. He’s the reason I’m running track today. It was an emotional time for me. I’m glad I had the opportunity to come out here and get him a gold medal. He was my #1 fan. He was the type of person that will call a whole family to let them know I was on TV. To have him in my heart, I’m glad I came out with the gold. It was tough because I thought that wasn’t going to be enough. I know my competitors, and I know on any given day 7 meters is the mark and that any of them can go 7 meters. That third round was probably the best round for me to get myself in the best position to secure myself gold.”

Tianna Bartoletta: ”Starting with the competition, I knew I wasn’t all that comfortable with the runway during qualifying. That’s why I took all three jumps to try to find that sweet spot and rhythm. We worked on it in training, but I came out and didn’t get on top of it right away, so I kind of wasted four rounds. I didn’t panic because I’ve been in these situations before and was able to put enough of a jump to make it on the podium. Bronze is the medal I earned today and I’m happy with it. It showed a lot of character to stay in the game as long as I did, so I’m pleased.”

Women’s 200m Final

Kimberlyn Duncan: “It was a tough competition but it was a great competition. I’m happy to be out here especially coming off the year I had last year. I’m very blessed to be out here. I wish (my race) was a little bit better. I was injured last year, running terrible times last year, for me to even be here in the final to run against these girls who are awesome runners. It’s a great feeling. I wish my race was a little bit better. It gives me something to go into next year.”

Deajah Stevens: “It felt fine. People are usually disappointed to lose. That’s just all I had today. Altogether, it’s been a great performance. It’s just kind of frustrating coming off a long collegiate season against all these people who didn’t have to do that. My mind is just super tired. I gave it everything I had today and it just frustrates me because I have more to give.”

Women’s 100mH Semis

Keni Harrison: “That first little false start, I tried to refocus. I think I got out well and I didn’t react to the hurdle. So hitting it, I told myself keep going. You can’t stop here. You train too hard for this. As soon as I ran across the line, I heard somebody say you made it, so that was a relief.”

Dawn Harper-Nelson: “It was really just about executing, especially with that false start. We were trying to regroup, get your nerves together and just go for it. I was happy with the season’s best and as you can see I enjoyed myself.”

Nia Ali: “The first hurdle is giving me trouble all day today, so I’m glad I was able to get that one out of the way. I focused on it going into the second round, and I think I got a lot more power out the back, so I crashed, but I was able to stay forward and recover really well, so I was happy about that.”

Christina Manning: “I felt really good out of the blocks. I just wanted to get out there and keep pushing through ten. I’m so excited. Honestly, I say this is the easy part, you go through the rounds, get to the final. No pressure. Just go in and give it all I’ve got.”

Women’s 800m Semis

Ajee’ Wilson: “My coach told me to go out, run controlled, so that’s how I felt. When I found myself in the lead, I just wanted to run within myself and bring it home the last lap. (On advancing to the final) Super excited for the final. We’re just going to try to compete and put our best foot out there, hopefully come home with some medals

Brenda Martinez: “I wish I just had a little bit more of a kick at the end. It felt like I was kicking with the girls. I’m actually not tired, so there’s definitely more in the tank. I think I followed the plan. I just wanted to sit on the leaders and kind of stay out of trouble, but I was on the rail and I felt like I was licking my chops the whole time. I thought I had it, but my legs buckled maybe the last 10 meters. Those girls are hard to beat.”

Charlene Lipsey: “My coach said that if I got in the lead, just stay controlled. I did exactly that. Down on the back stretch, there was a little more competition, pushing and shoving going on, but I just brought it home. (On advancing to the final) It means a lot. I was just like let’s take it day by day and if you get in finals, you’ll be good. So I’m glad I made finals. First team, first final.

Men’s 1500m Semis

Johnny Gregorek: “I’m happy I got through. That was the goal. It wasn’t great positioning once again but it’s something I’m working on. I know if I’m in the right position when it counts I’ll be able to be finishing closer to the front. It was another learning experience at a high level and I’m glad I was able to close like that. Just the last 200, similar to USA’s, it was just blind, blind fury. I managed to get in there.”

Robby Andrews: “I just saw medical and they said it was a calf strain. I think it was right when we were accelerating in the later stages of the race, which makes sense. USATF medical has been working with me all week. It’s been great. I thought I would be able to make it through the championships. Unfortunately not, but USATF medical has been doing great for me all week. It’s just unfortunate.”

Men’s Decathlon

Trey Hardee: “Season’s best, had a few [of those]. It’s hard when you know that it’s not your best self out there, not your best product. It’s the best I’m going to do. It’s hard to process right now, but I’m happy. I had no really bad events. The 100 wasn’t great, but I got a time. Long jump, we missed my last two jumps but I got a mark. Shot ut we missed, but I got a good mark. It’s there, it’s still there. We were a little off the mark on a few things today. Now it’s just eat, rest up, get ready for tomorrow. A lot can happen tomorrow.”

Devon Williams: “It felt good, I finished good in the 400. I felt like I ran a pretty fast time. The start of the meet didn’t go as planned. I started out real slow in the 100m and I didn’t execute the long jump the way I wanted to. I don’t know what happened, I just wasn’t firing. After long jump, things started picking up a little bit and I was able to finish day 1, fairly okay.”

Zach Ziemek: “I’m feeling alright. This is probably one of the worst first days I’ve ever had event-wise, but there’s five more [events] tomorrow.”

Amanda Brooks