When Emma Coburn became the first American woman to medal in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2016 Rio Olympics, she set a national record along the way while bringing home bronze.

Earlier this year, Coburn very nearly matched that record-setting time at the Prefontaine Classic in a race in which she finished fifth overall.

Heading into the IAAF World Championships this week in London, Coburn said she expected to face a similarly competitive field. And that's exactly what she encountered during Friday's final, except this time Coburn emerged as the best of the best.

The former Colorado All-American put together another historic performance, capturing a gold medal while decimating her own American record. Coburn also led a one-two finish for U.S. runners in the event, with Courtney Frerichs turning in a personal-best effort to take silver.

"Oh my goodness, what a race to be part of," Coburn said. "I never expected to win in that time but I kept pressing. It is pretty amazing to get a championship record."

Coburn finished in 9 minutes, 2.58 seconds, topping her Olympic time from a year ago by more than five seconds (9:07.63). Frerichs finished in 9:03.77.

Coburn's time also was an event record for the world championships, and she became the first American woman to win the event. She finished fifth in the steeplechase at the world championships in 2015 with a 9:21.78.

One year after Coburn and Jenny Simpson became the first American women to earn Olympic medals in their respective events, the pride of the CU track and field program made history again at the world championships. Earlier this week, Simpson backed up her bronze medal in the 1,500-meter run at last year's Olympics by placing second in London.


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In other action on Friday, Silver Creek graduate and Stanford senior Valarie Allman made her debut on the senior U.S. national team in the preliminary rounds of the women's discus. Allman threw 53.85 meters (176 feet, 8 inches) on her initial throw but committed fouls on her next two attempts, which left her out of the championship round.

Associated Press contributed to this report

Pat Rooney: rooneyp@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/prooney07