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Emma Coburn Becomes First American to Medal in the Steeplechase

The American battled for silver, but settled for bronze in a new American record.

Athletics - Olympics: Day 10 Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

In a race that almost saw yet another world record fall in Rio, Emma Coburn made history by becoming the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in the steeplechase.

Bahrainian Ruth Jebet broke the race open early and flirted with the World Record before easing off substantially in the final meters of the race. Her time of 8:59.75 was less than a second off the performance of Russian Gulnara Samitova-Galkina. If her performance here is any indication, the 19-year old Jebet will have many more chances at that world record before her career is over.

Perhaps as notable was the performance of Emma Coburn. After Jebet broke the race open, Coburn was left in a race for second. She went back and forth with Hyvin Jepkemoi over the final couple laps before settling for third. In the process, Coburn broke her own American record by over three seconds with a time of 9:07.63.

On the men’s side, all three Americans—Evan Jager, Donn Cabral, Hillary Bor—advanced to the final of the steeplechase as they’ll look to get another American medal in the event.