Boulder’s Jenny Simpson wins bronze in women’s 1500m race in Rio

RIO DE JANEIRO — Jenny Simpson of Boulder became the first woman to win an Olympic medal in the 1500-meter race for Team USA on Tuesday night at the Rio Olympics.

Simpson won the bronze medal in event Tuesday night in 4 minutes, 10.53 seconds, finishing behind Faith Kipyegon of Kenya and Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia.

Simpson is a former track and field star at the University of Colorado and has represented the United States in each of the last three Summer Olympics.

It was the second medal in two days for former CU track athletes. On Monday, Emma Coburn finished third in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Simpson was the 2011 world champion in the 1,500 meters and was runner-up in 2013. Last year at the world championships, she lost a shoe after getting stepped on, and she finished 11th.

“Exactly a year ago, I was on the side of the track, picking up my shoe, and now I’m here with an American flag,” the 29-year-old said. “That’s always going to be a real special memory for me.”

Simpson finished just ahead of American teammate Shannon Rowbury, who finished fourth.

“I love feeling that stress on the last lap,” Simpson said. “I was one of the crowd who could maybe get third, so I’m really happy.

“I want to be someone that this country can be real proud to cheer for. I didn’t decide to want to be that person this week or this year. I decided I wanted to be that person eight or 10 years ago. It’s been a long ride of highs and lows.”

Simpson and Coburn are coached by CU coaches Mark Wetmore and Heather Burroughs.