American record holder Evan Jager made history with his bronze medal in the men’s 3,0000 meter steeplechase final on Tuesday evening. It’s the first podium finish by an American over the distance in the history of the world championships.
The 30-year steeplechase reign of Kenyan-born athletes continued, as Conseslus Kipruto, the 2016 Olympic Champion, took the gold in 8:14.12. Soufiane Elbakkali of Morocco rounded out the podium with the silver medal, finishing in 8:14.49.
The race got off to a fairly slow start, with Birech and Kipruto controlling the early pace. Seboka of Ethiopia, was the first to try and open it up with five laps to go, while Jager waited back in about fifth place, biding his time. With four laps to go Jager went to the lead and didn’t give it up until 250 meters to go. It seemed a smart move by Jager, who knows he doesn’t have the closing speed of the Kenyans–a long drawn out finish was his best shot at the Gold.
The runners went through 2,000m in 5:35.66. Four men (Birech, Kipruto, Elbakkali, and Jager) started to break away at this point, with Stanely Kebenei giving chase behind. With two laps to go Kemboi, the 7 -time world champion, became a non-factor.
They hit the bell lap with Jager still leading in 7:11. At this point it looked like a two-man race, with Jager and Kipruto leaving the Moroccan behind. But with about 250 to go, Kipruto made his move over the backstretch barrier, and didn’t relinquish. Over the final water barrier, Jager was overcome by Elbakkali, and that was the race.
Despite finishing in 3rd, Evan Jager will bring home the first American medal in the 3,000m Steeplechase, his 2nd medal on the world stage.
Disappointed as he may be, Track Twitter has a keen sense of history, and showed up for Evan Jager:
— emma coburn (@emmajcoburn) August 8, 2017
— gabriele grunewald (@gg_runs) August 8, 2017
Wow, gutsy running by @EvanJager – gotta be proud of someone who goes for it! 🇺🇸🥉
— Molly Huddle (@MollyHuddle) August 8, 2017
What @EvanJager has done for the steeple is what Pre did for the 5k. He made it cool. Go Evan!
— Alan Webb (@alan_webb1) August 8, 2017
— Stephanie Garcia (@steph_steeples) August 8, 2017
Anyone who has ever run a steeple can appreciate @EvanJager running a 4:15(ish) last mile. Gutsy way to run. Congratulations! Bronze
— Ben Bruce (@bbjamin) August 8, 2017
— Ayden Jent (@Ajent20) August 8, 2017
— Scott Fauble (@scottfaubs) August 8, 2017