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Saturday, 12 August 2017 19:15

Team USATF Shocks Distance World with 1-2 Finish in Women’s Steeple; Medal Update

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Coburn and Frerichs celebrate their 1–2 finish in the steeplechase. Coburn and Frerichs celebrate their 1–2 finish in the steeplechase. Courtesy of USATF
USATF (8/11/2017, 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 at usatf.org.
 
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 www.nothingisimpossible.com
 
TEAM USATF MEDAL TABLE
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)
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