Jenny Simpson made Olympic history when she became the first American ever to medal in the women’s 1,500-meter final Tuesday night at the Rio Olympics. The runner’s 4:10.53 earned her bronze, finishing just seconds behind Ethiopian runner Genzebe Dibaba (silver), and Kenyan runner Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon (gold). Simpson’s joy at the result was palpable.
Mark Wetmore, Simpson’s coach, was full of praise for the star runner. “I saw a killer, a predator,” Wetmore told The Denver Post. “Just killer will. She ran her last 800 faster than she’s run any 800 in her life.” Simpson says she looks to her sister Emily, a fire chief in the U.S. Army, for inspiration. "My little sister gave me a little note and a gift before my first round today," Simpson told the Des Moines Register following her qualification. "I have a mantra that I talk about a lot, about being brave. She said to 'be brave is to move forward,' so that was kind of my thought tonight, that today was all about moving forward. Everything in my mind I pointed toward that one goal to keep moving forward." Simpson’s words about nerves after qualifying were insightful in any field. “I was thinking about, what about nervousness tips you over the edge?” she told the media. “I decided that what tips you over the edge is when nerves turn into worrying.”