Leaders from CU athletics comment on bronze medals for Jenny Simpson, Emma Coburn

Colorado graduate Jenny Simpson (right) reacts to becoming the first U.S. woman to earn an Olympic medal in the 1,500-meter run.
AAron Ontiveroz / THE DENVER POST
Colorado graduate Jenny Simpson (right) reacts to becoming the first U.S. woman to earn an Olympic medal in the 1,500-meter run.


The bronze-medal winning exploits of Colorado track alums Emma Coburn and Jenny Simpson have reverberated across the University of Colorado campus.

On Wednesday, after Coburn (3,000-meter steeplechase) and Simpson (1,500-meter run) became the first American women to win medals in their respective events, a number of figures from across the CU athletics chimed in with their thoughts and accolades. Here’s a sample of what they had to say.

HEATHER BURROUGHS (Assistant cross country and track coach; also trained Coburn and Simpson for the Olympics alongside Mark Wetmore)

On Simpson’s tactical run, letting a lead pack surge ahead before closing fast over the final lap: “It was so smart. Watching it with 400 to go, I was worried because the gaps were so big. It maybe was out of reach. But I wasn’t paying attention to the clock at that point. Like most people, I didn’t realize, the leaders had run 56 seconds for the second-to-last lap. That’s insane and I don’t think that’s ever happened before. I don’t think Jenny was consciously saying, ‘I’ll pace myself a little bit, and I’ll be able to catch them later.’ She just said, ‘This isn’t a move I can cover. This is not my race.’ She has so much experience in championship races. She knows the deal. She probably knew in her head it was faster than anyone could run. She’s been in so many of those races it paid off.”

On what the accomplishments mean for Mark Wetmore: “Mark IS the University of Colorado track and cross country programs. It’s his legacy. All this momentum began with him. Everything that has happened over the last 24 years is because Mark came to Boulder and ended up the coach at CU. As hard as the rest of us work, we are still a domino affect of his arrival here and what he has build here. I’m very happy for him. He’s been doing this much longer than I have. If there’s anyone else besides our athletes that deserves this level of success, it’s him. He lives his life a certain way and says these are the rules, and even if someone beats me I’m going to play by my rules win or lose. And he really deserves to win.”

RICK GEORGE (CU Athletic Director)

“It’s a tremendous accomplishment. For them to be the first in their event to win an Olympic medal is significant. I’m proud of both of them. I’m proud of the coaches. It’s really an exciting, exciting thing for both of them and for the University of Colorado and our athletic department.”

TAD BOYLE (Head men’s basketball coach)

“I certainly followed it. I missed both races when they went live, but certainly followed both Emma and Jenny in their journeys. Obviously you’re really proud of them for being from CU and representing. Being one of the top three in the world in what you do is pretty special.”

“It speaks to anybody who’s an athlete in Boulder. So many world class athletes train here. The fact that Jenny and Emma were both able to do what they did in the Olympics is impressive. They’re on every night at our house, and I’m just really proud of both of them. It is something you can point to with your own athletes as a coach.”

MIKE MacINTYRE (Head football coach)

“The whole team was able to watch Emma the other day, and then the way everything was designed with Jenny’s when it went off, I watched it personally on Podcast and was cheering all the way. It was really, really exciting. Then I went down and told the players what happened while they were getting dressed to go on the field for our second practice and they were all excited.”

“That was impressive, her kick there at the end. I thought she was going to get silver for a second. Both of them set American records I believe and the first women to ever do what they did. Pretty impressive to say the least. Our guys seem them out here working out all the time. It was really exciting.”

Jokingly, MacIntyre added: “I usually pace them when I go run with them. (The medals) are partly mine, no doubt about it. (Mark) Wetmore had a little bit to do with it, but not much. I’m really happy for them all. I’ll bet you they can fly back without the airplane.”

DANNY SANCHEZ (Head soccer coach)

“Obviously these are student-athletes that were here before my time, but we see them here all the time training. I just think that when you talk about producing world-class athletes, and at the end of the day there’s two people in the world that ran the 1,500-meter faster than Jenny Simpson. You can see them out here. You seem them in Balch (Fieldhouse). The commitment that they made, for our players it’s an inspiration. At the end of the day everyone wants to be a world-class athlete, but they actually are at the top of their craft in the world. It’s so much credit to Mark (Wetmore) and Heather (Burroughs).”

DANICA EVANS (Senior soccer player)

“The other day we watched Emma in the locker room and it was so cool. She literally trains walking distance from us. You look up and see these athletes and you’re like, ‘Wow, I go to the same school as them.’ It’s actually inspiring.”

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