Glastonbury's Donn Cabral Competes in Olympic Steeplechase Final | Connecticut Public Radio
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Glastonbury's Donn Cabral Competes in Olympic Steeplechase Final

Aug 17, 2016

The last American to win any medal in the event was a bronze back in 1984.

Connecticut's own Donn Cabral ran in the Olympic 3,000 meter steeplechase final Wednesday morning. Cabral finished in ninth place -- but his U.S. teammate Evan Jager finished with a silver medal. 

The steeplechase is one of the most grueling and chaotic Olympic track and field events: seven-and-a-half laps around the track at top speed, where runners must negotiate 28 barriers and seven water jumps.

"Unlike a race without barriers, where you're just running along and get into a rhythm, if you are running around five other people and then all of the sudden you have to clear a barrier, there's lots of moving around, there's lots of jostling, and breaking stride, and so there's always the possibility of a fall," said Scott Douglass, contributing editor for Runner's World.

The men's steeplechase event has been dominated for decades by Kenyan runners. The last American to win any medal in the event was a bronze back in 1984.

This is the second Olympics for Cabral, a Glastonbury High and Princeton graduate. In the 2012 London Games, Cabral finished 10th in the steeplechase finals.

Before the race, Douglass said Cabral had to stick to the same strategy he used in Monday's qualifying heat to have any chance for a medal. "He'll do better to lay off the fireworks up front, stay closer to the back," Douglas said. "That allows him to not get in trouble getting tangled with other runners, and then sort of move up over the last two laps."

Listen to the interview with Scott Douglass:

The steeplechase event has its roots in 19th century Ireland, when horses, and later runners participated in races from one town's steeple to the next. It has been an Olympic event since the Paris Games of 1900.