A class of 2010 graduate, Simpson led the Buffs’ track and cross-country teams throughout her time at CU from 2005-2009. In 2006 she became the first true freshman at CU to win an NCAA title in track, and in 2007 and 2009 she was the USA Track & Field steeplechase champion.
(CU Independent Illustration/Josh Shettler)
During her collegiate career, Simpson was a 13-time All-Big 12 team nominee (cross-country and track) and seven-time All-American. She competed in her first Olympic Games in 2008, where she finished ninth in the steeplechase and was the highest-placed American. She currently holds the American 3000 meter steeplechase record.
Her professional career running for New Balance has been filled with top results, including national titles in the mile and the 3000m and a world championship gold medal in the 1500m, all in 2011.
At the London Olympics, Simpson competed in the 1500m, but did not advance to the final round. Simpson spoke with the CU Independent via email about moving on from her disappointing Olympic race and setting goals for the rest of the season.
CUI: What were your goals going into the London Games? What have you taken away from the experience?
JS: My main goal going into the Olympic Games was to make the final. While it’s intoxicating to imagine the prospects of winning a medal at the Olympic Games, you don’t even have the opportunity to try for it unless you advance to the final race. Unfortunately, I didn’t earn myself that chance this year. I found myself in a very difficult and fast semi-final heat and despite doing my best to stay in the front group, I fell off the pace late in the race and was out of contention for the final advancing spots at the finish line. It’s a really difficult thing to go through on such a public stage. But as a very competitive person, I think it will serve as a great motivation in following years. It hurts to lose and so that perspective will make the pain and endurance of training throughout the coming year seem so much more bearable when I think the early trials will spare me missing another final.
CUI: You were one of six CU athletes, both current students and alumni, who competed in London, and you were teammates with both Emma Coburn and Shalaya Kipp in cross-country your senior year. What does it mean to you to be representing CU at the Olympics and to have these two amazing athletes follow in your footsteps in the steeplechase? Did you offer them any words of wisdom orwatch them compete?
JS: The University of Colorado should be proud of such a great representation they had at the Olympic Games. I did see Emma Coburn and Shalaya at Opening Ceremonies for a few minutes but unfortunately, since Kara and the steeple ladies and myself all had events at such different times we didn’t get to interact much. For spectating, it would be a blast to watch someone from CU run every other day or so, but for us it unfortunately put us on totally different schedules. That being said, when CU women hit the track and road I was glued to the TV and I promise nobody was pulling for them as much as I was. To a degree, I know what they’ve been through to get this far, and I’m so proud to be among them at the Olympics.
CUI: How did the Diamond League races after the Games go for you? What are your main goals for the rest of the season?
JS: The rest of the season was a lesson in “getting back on the horse.” It is difficult to take such an emotional disappointment like I did at the Olympics and then to return as confident as ever into the same level of competition at the Diamond League races. I continued to race and the remainder of my season was quite a roller-coaster as far as performances. However, I did manage to run two season bests in the 1500m after the Games and regained some of my confidence.
Contact CU Independent Sports Editor Caryn Maconi at Caryn.email@example.com.