The greatest American steeplechaser in history is out of the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Evan Jager, a 2007 Jacobs graduate and 2016 Olympic silver medalist, told Yahoo! Sports that he has a calf injury that will keep him from competing in the trials and the Olympics this summer.
The trials start Friday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, and run through June 27. The 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo, set to run July 23 to Aug. 8, would have been Jager’s third Olympics.
Jager, 32, has been one of the world’s top runners in the 3,000-meter event since taking it up in 2011. The Algonquin native told Yahoo! that a recent MRI revealed 16 centimeters of tearing in one of his leg’s muscles.
Jager took sixth in the 2012 Olympics in London and was runner-up to Kenya’s Conseslus Kipruto in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, in 8:04.28. Jager’s time is the second-fastest steeplechase in Olympic history behind Kipruto’s 8:03.28.
On Monday, the website EvanJager.com had a news post where Jager announced he will not be competing and detailed what has happened. A string of recent injuries, most recently multiple tears of a calf, is what knocked him out of competition.
“I wanted to make a video laying out how the last few months has gone for me,” Jager said in an Instragram post. “Unfortunately my reality is I’m not going to be running the trials this year, which [stinks]. I’ve had quite a few issues this year, stemming back to the middle of February, rolling my ankle really bad. Getting back into training quickly then developing an Achilles issue which lasted all of March until the middle of April, essentially being unable to run for that entire period.
“I started working out with the guys on the team again and got two weeks of running and workouts in before rabbiting Sean [McGorty] in the steeple at Mount Sac, and that went well enough that I was extremely optimistic. I had six weeks to get in better shape.”
However, a calf issue developed in ensuing workouts that has plagued him for weeks.
“It got to the point where it was tight all the time, and I was not in a place where I could even work out at a high level. I didn’t have the ability to run fast without doing major damage. I got an ultrasound, and the doctor found a pool of blood in the soleus/Achilles area, and he told me he thought I had torn the lateral soleus. I had to make the decision that running the Trials wasn’t an option. We got an MRI, and not only did I tear the lateral soleus, we tore the lateral gastroc (nemius), I had in total about 16cm of tearing. It showed me we made the right decision in shutting things down and doing everything I can to get healthy.
“It’s obviously very disappointing, especially after not being able to run USA’s in 2019 and knowing this winter that I had the fitness to make the team – training was going well until March – but with trials looming I felt I was constantly in this place of rushing to get back. It really [stinks].”
Jager, who won one cross country and three track and field state titles at Jacobs, will turn his attention to the 2022 World Track and Field Championships. The worlds usually run in odd-numbered years, but because the 2020 Olympics were postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the worlds also were pushed back a year.