Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Illustration for article titled Officials Ruin Steeplechase Competition By Setting A Barrier Six Inches Too High

Wild shit happens in the steeplechase. Emma Coburn won last year’s world championship in part because one of the favorites ran around the first water jump instead of over it; a runner at the 2009 U.S. women’s championship broke her foot after one barrier was accidentally set at the men’s height; in a college race last year, the officials miscounted laps, stopped the race, and then set the barriers to the men’s height before the women realized the mistake and ran the last lap. Today’s mishap in Oslo instantly enters that canon.

In a race featuring Coburn and a bunch of the other best steeplechasers in the world, the officials set a barrier at the men’s height, which is 36 inches instead of the women’s 30. Coburn noticed it immediately, waving her hands in the air and trying to get the officials’ attention, but they didn’t adjust the barrier in time. A bunch of women slammed into the barrier the first time around, and the officials only partially fixed it after, lowering one side to the women’s height while the other remained at the men’s.


Hyvin Kiyeng of Kenya won the race in 9:09.63, beating Coburn by seven hundredths of a second.

Update: Coburn said in an interview after the race that her husband and coach was the one who ran onto the track and told the officials to adjust the barrier after the women had already hurdled it three times.

New Orleans-based writer and editor

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