Colorado’s Emma Coburn becomes first U.S. woman ever to medal in the steeplechase

The U.S. hadn’t medaled in the steeplechase since 1984.

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A Colorado native became the first-ever American woman to earn an Olympic medal in the steeplechase. University of Colorado alumna Emma Coburn used a strong closing stretch to finish third in the event Monday morning — winning bronze with a time of 9:07.63.

The steeplechase, for those unfamiliar, is a 3,000-meter race that consists of 28 hurdle jumps and seven water jumps.

Ruth Jebet of Bahrain won gold with a time of 8:59.75. Hyvin Jepkemoi of Kenya took silver by finishing in 9:07.12 — about a half second ahead of Coburn.

The U.S. hasn’t medaled in the steeplechase since 1984, when Brian Diemer won bronze. Women didn’t start competing in the Olympic steeplechase until 2008.

Coburn, who grew up in Crested Butte, broke her own American record in the process of winning bronze.