Jenny Barringer Simpson – World 1500 Meter Champion – on Dealing With Disappointment

Jenny Barringer Simpson has had a long and storied career as a middle distance, steeplechase and cross country runner. But like any athletic career (or any long career period) it has had its ups and downs.

For highlights, Simpson, currently 35 years of age, won a surprise gold medal in the 1500 meters at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics and a silver at the 2017 Worlds. She also won a bronze medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics. But she’s had her disappointments, including finishing 163rd at a 2009 NCAA cross-country championship she’d been favored to win, failing to make the final at the 2012 Olympics in London, losing a shoe in the final of the 2015 World Championships, ultimately finishing 11th. In June of 2021, she failed to qualify to the U.S. Olympic team.

Here’s a sample of her philosophy:

“But I can tell you from past experiences, you can’t win them all, but you can be a fighter in every circumstance.”

I left London empty handed. I leave Rio with a full heart. I leave both a better woman for the next challenge.”

“This is sport: sometimes you work hard and it pays off. Sometimes you have to live right through extreme disappointment. Never give up. Never give up. Never give up. Be brave.”

In the following retrospective interview from 2019, she discusses her extreme disappointment after failing to win the 2009 NCAA cross country championships in her senior year. But her positive take from that disappointment was that it steeled her for future disappointments – having lived through those negative emotions, she knew she could do so again.

It provides an excellent perspective for coaches who must deal with athletes after a disappointing performance…and what coach hasn’t dealt with that situation.


Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]Jenny Simpson,Jenny Barringer Simpson,track and field,1500 metres,1500 meters,World Athletics Championships 2011>[/tags]

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