On This Date: Jenny Simpson Started Her Meteoric Rise

Very few athletes made the transition from collegiate superstar to world medal threat as seamlessly as Jenny Simpson (née Barringer).

But, then again, there is only one Jenny Simpson.

We’ll pick this story up on August 17, 2009.

That’s when Simpson, then with the surname Barringer, toed the starting line for the 3000-meters steeplechase at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin.

Just six weeks before that, Simpson captured her second U.S. title in the event at Historic Hayward Field, which came two weeks after she put a bow on a sensational final year with the Colorado Buffaloes. As a senior at Colorado, Simpson set five collegiate records (two indoors, three outdoor), won two NCAA titles on the track and was crowned the inaugural winner of The Bowerman.

On this date 10 years ago, though, Simpson had her sights on her first world medal. She had a taste of competing at that level from the year before at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, where she finished ninth in an absolutely stacked race (Gulnara Samitova-Galkina sets the world record and five other national records fell, including the American record by Simpson).

The race in Berlin went out quick (3:01.26 through 1000 meters), but Simpson wasn’t deterred, even though she was in the back of the pack. She stayed the course and continued to work, just as she did throughout her collegiate career and to this stage of her international career.

Simpson closed hard and finished fifth – which would later be changed to fourth after the gold medalist was DQ’d – in a new American record time of 9:12.50. That record would stand for almost eight years before Emma Coburn went 9:02.58 to win the gold medal in London. (We should also mention that Simpson’s mark stands as the current All-Dates Collegiate Best since it came within the open window of collegiate seasons.)

This result served as a launching pad for Simpson, as she would win four medals in the next six global championships in which she competed. Simpson won gold in the 1500 at the 2011 IAAF World Championships, silver in the 1500 at the 2013 IAAF World Championships, bronze in the 1500 at the 2016 Summer Olympics and silver in the 1500 at the 2017 IAAF World Championships.