Stephanie Garcia faceplanted on the penultimate water jump in her 3000m steeplechase heat at the USATF Outdoor Championships on Thursday, bringing back painful memories of the Olympic Trials.
Garcia was battling for the lead when she stutter-stepped to the water jump and tripped over it, breaking the fall to the Sacramento track with her hands.
“It’s like when you have that nightmare that you’re going to school and you forgot your homework or you’re only wearing your underwear,” Garcia told media later.
She recovered to finish fourth in her heat, advancing to the final Saturday (5:24 p.m. ET, NBC and NBC Sports Gold). She likely needs to finish in the top three Saturday to qualify for her third world championships team.
Garcia finished ninth at the 2015 Worlds, but she failed to make the 2016 Olympic team.
At the Olympic Trials, Garcia was in second place with 200 meters to go. But she was passed by two runners, falling out of Olympic qualifying position. She then fell over the final barrier and ended up fifth (video here).
“I think I have a little bit of some scars from that Trials race last year,” Garcia said. “I’m not going to let that bring me down.”
Garcia had to conquer the water jump one more time Thursday after her faceplant. She slowed to a near walk and stepped over the barrier to avoid another collapse.
“I kind of buried myself mentally a little bit, having to crawl out of it,” Garcia said. “I feel very confident in my fitness. I’m the fittest I’ve ever been. Everyone has to deal with the hurdles and the water jump, and I do, too.”
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