One hundred and fifty meters before finishing in first place in the 3,000 meter steeplechase at a Diamond League meeting in France, American runner Evan Jager suffered the worst collapse of his career.
According to Cathal Dennehy of Runners World, Jager was blowing away a group of Kenyan runners, on pace to crush a personal record and American record, when he tripped on the final hurdle and was passed by world leader Jairus Birech.
Though Jager finished at 8:00.45, still four seconds better than his previous American record of 8:04.71, he couldn’t crack the eight-minute mark, and the second-place finish was heartbreaking to watch.
On the final leg, Jager was clearly fatigued, but seemed to be pulling ahead of Birech. He landed awkwardly and stumbled, and the race was over:
A great photo of the fateful moment:
After the race, the other runners congratulated and seemingly consoled Jager, who had them beat:
Bierch said afterward, “I feel sorry for the American guy. He was stronger than me. I was beaten.”
Jager explained the fall, saying:
“I don’t know if I was running too fast or was too tired. I gave it everything I had to get over the barrier, but my toe just barely clipped it. I couldn’t stop myself from falling. I just tried to get up as fast as I could.”
Here’s the full video of the final leg of the race:
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