Evan Jager created history for American distance running by becoming the first US man to win a medal in the steeplechase at the World Championships in London on Tuesday night, the 28-year-old Illinois native coming home third in 8:15.33 in a race won by Olympic champion Conseslus Kipruto of Kenya.
“I’m a little disappointed I didn’t come away with the win but happy I stayed in the top three and got a medal,” Jager said afterward. “I’m a little bummed.”
The early pace was slow, the athletes virtually jogging through the first kilometer in 2:51.81, which left all 15 athletes bunched together. With just more than a mile to run, Jager finally broke, powering to the front and injecting a huge surge.
“I wanted to make it hard,” he said. “We thought it was going to go slow the first kilometer and we said if that happens it’s better for me to get rid of guys by going hard with three or four laps to go to make it a strength race.”
“I was like: Oh my gosh, I hope I have enough left,” Jager said, recalling his thoughts up the home stretch as he hung on for bronze.
Kipruto took gold in 8:14.12 ahead of Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco to maintain Kenya’s stranglehold on the event, with Jager taking the first ever world medal in the event by an American.
For a full story on Jager’s feat and to watch his reaction, check out Runner’s World.