22 November, 2018

Evan Jager's Tragic Fall in Paris

  • © Jiro Mochizuki

Back in 2015, Paris played host to one of the most heartrending moments in Diamond League history. Evan Jager's attempt to break the eight minute barrier looked set to end in glorious success before the American took a tumble on the home straight.

The eight minute mark is something of a holy grail for 3000m steeplechasers, and Jager had been making eyes at it for some time, having clocked 8:04.71 at the Diamond League Final in Brussels the year before and 8:05.28 in a non-scoring event at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene earlier that summer.

In Paris, he came up against a strong field, including an up and coming Conseslus Kipruto and standings leader Jairus Birech, who had picked up two wins and a second place in his three Diamond League appearances in 2015. 

Jager, determined to not only take victory but also break that all important barrier, got away quickly, and held Birech off for much of the race.

As he turned into the home straight, he looked certain to break eight minutes, the clock ticking on to 7.47 minutes as he went over the last barrier. 

Unfortunately for the American, that last hurdle was one too many. Jager's trailing foot clipped the barrier by a whisker, and he briefly lost his footing as he landed, tumbling forward on to the track. 

Birech was away, and would take victory in a sub-8-minute time, but all eyes were on Jager, as he recovered quickly and burst away towards the finish. Even his last drops of energy weren't enough, and the USATF star hung his head in anguish as the clock showed 8:00.45 at the finish line. He had missed his mark by less than half a second. 

It may have been an American record, and one that is still standing today, but as records go, it is a bittersweet one for Jager, the Diamond League's ultimate tragic hero.