Buffs Complete Olympic Steeplechase Final
BOULDER – On a warm, muggy night in Tokyo, Colorado track and field alumni Val Constien and Emma Coburn finished the 2020 Olympic women's steeplechase final, finishing 12th and 14th* respectfully.
Both former Buffs held tight to the lead in the first half of the race before things got stretched out. Coburn held onto the back of the chase pack at the bell lap but suffered a fall over a barrier and dropped down to 14th by the end of things in 9:41.50. Constien finished just ahead of her in 12th in 9:31.61 while their Team USA teammate Courtney Frerichs took home the silver medal in 9:04.79.
Constien went straight to third at the start of the race while Coburn came up on her outside as the US women took up half of the top six spots. Into the first water jump, the three US women went Frerichs, Coburn, Constien in third through sixth.
Frerichs took the lead with four laps to go as Coburn sat in sixth and Constien in 10th. Frerichs stretched it out with three laps to go as she and Uganda's Peruth Chemutai had a 10 meter lead with 800 meters remaining. Coburn sat in sixth 20-meters behind the two leaders. Frerichs took the bell lap with a 10 meter lead but quickly lost it as Chemutai passed on the back stretch as Coburn took a fall over a barrier in the final lap to lose many positions.
Chemutai of Uganda took the gold in a national record of 9:01.45, followed by Frerichs and Hyvin Kiyeng of Kenya for bronze. This is the first time in the history of the women's Olympic steeplechase that a Buff hasn't finished as the top USA woman representative. The Buffs have had six Olympic appearances in the event, making up nearly half of the USA women to ever run the event with four of the nine women to represent USA.
*Coburn was later disqualified from the event due to stepping inside the track during her fall.