2016 athletes of the year
Jenny Simpson, Co-Female Athlete of the Year Track & Field Year Honored : 2016
Jenny Simpson

US Olympics, co-Female Athlete of the Year

Jenny Simpson and Emma Coburn seemed to cast one shadow in 2016. 

A shadow needs sun to make its presence. Last year the sun shined brightly on the two friends and Boulder training partners when they won bronze medals in the Summer Olympics. They became the first women in U.S. history to take the Olympic podium in the 1,500 meters and 3,000-meter steeplechase, respectively.

For two days in August, at Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, they stamped their young careers with greatness and became the best athletes in their middle distances in U.S. history.

Simpson, suffering the after-effects of a stress fracture and an untimely cold, ran the best final 800 meters in her life, got her usual finishing kick in the last 100 meters and made history.

A day later Coburn, who has battled Achilles tendon problems, followed coach Mark Wetmore’s plan for sticking with the leaders and took the bronze. Simpson won four NCAA titles at Colorado. She also was world champion and was the dominant steeplechaser and later 1,500-meter runner in the U.S. She’s been coached by Wetmore, Heather Burroughs and Juli Benson.

Coburn was born in Boulder, grew up in Crested Butte and now lives in Boulder. She won three NCAA titles for the Buffs and the U.S. national championship for five straight years in dominating her event.

The pair teamed with two other Olympians in January to break the indoor world record in the 4,000-meter medley relay at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix meet in Boston.