Jager's been one of my favorite track athletes for years. Though I don't cheer for U.S. Athletes exclusively, it is fun to see a countryman break an American record.
Here's a link to the story on lets run: "In A Brave, Brave Run, Evan Jager Nearly Crushes The World’s Best In Men’s Steeple, Settles For 8:00.43 American Record."
Watch the entire race here:
If you didn't watch the above race, I'll give you a synopsis. Jager, an Olympic steeplechaser, was on pace to not only set an American record, but to win the race against the world's best. He fell.
Still, he got back up, set the record, and finished second. I don't know what went through his head, but I can imagine. In a post-race interview, Jager said, "My lead toe just barely clipped the barrier and I could not do anything to stop myself from falling… I can’t believe I did that… I tried to get myself up as fast as I could…. to dip under 8 [minutes] still, and I just missed it, and I’m incredibly pissed right now.”
On a rainy day at the University of Doane, I slipped on the water jump barrier and fell--twice. After the first time, a crowd had gathered to "cheer" at the barrier. When I fell the second time--even less gracefully than the first--the crowd grew even larger.
I finished that race in last place in my slowest time of the season and of my "career." At the conference meet a month or so later, I ran a personal best--over a minute faster than the rainy Doane meet. My time, 10:21, was nowhere near elite, but I felt proud--proud because I'd run a clean race, clearing every barrier without so much as a stumble.
Jager should be proud, but he is certainly entitled to feel "pissed off." He could have won the race. He could have broken eight minutes. He didn't.
Another meet, another time, he might. I think he will. But the next time, Jager will think of his fall, and when he clears the final barrier without falling, I think he'll be smiling.