Teenager Ruth Jebet won Bahrain’s first ever Olympic gold medal on Monday, blowing away the competition in the women’s 3,000 meters steeplechase but narrowly missing out on the world record.
The 19-year-old stormed into the lead after a few laps and set a blistering pace to win in eight minutes 59.75 seconds, shy of the 8:58.81 world record set by Russia’s Gulnara Galkina at the 2008 Beijing Games.
“I admit it was too easy for me but nobody told me about the record. I wanted the gold medal,” Jebet said.
Galkina and Kenyan-born Jebet, who was the world junior champion, are the only two women to have run a sub-nine minute time.
Kenya’s Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi, who won the world title in Beijing last year, was almost 50 meters behind in second place.
“I am so happy,” said Jepkemoi. “The last two laps were really hard. I just tried to stay strong and see if I could catch her.”
American Emma Coburn won United States’ first ever medal in the steeplechase as she grabbed bronze and a new national record.
“I feel very honored,” Coburn said.