In the next part of our series in which Stuart Weir talks to London 2017 gold medallists, American Emma Coburn reflects on an unexpected steeplechase victory
What do you remember about the 2017 World Championships in London?
The 2017 World Championships was definitely one of the top moments of my career. I came into that race ranked sixth in the world.
In all the Diamond Leagues that I had competed in earlier in the year I was finishing fifth or sixth by a big margin so I thought, coming into it, that if I could run perfectly I could sneak on to the podium and that in a world championship or Olympic race – without rabbits – there are always more question marks and anything can happen.
I came into that race with the intention to stay with the leaders for the first half of the race or the first 2000m and then just see what happened. It worked out and I felt great.
The combination of my training, the weather, the group of women that I was running with, the pacing, the crowd and the stadium – all of that came together to be a really perfect day.
Now you are introduced as the world champion – has life changed?
No. Being introduced as the world champion is something that will probably stick with me, definitely throughout my running career and maybe even beyond that. That has certainly been a little different.
But I’m still just as eager as I was before and just as hungry to have bigger successes and improve my times and my performances and have consistency in the sport. My approach to racing and training has not changed at all but it is a nice thing to hear, being introduced as the world champion.
Kenya and East Africa normally dominate the steeplechase so it was interesting to see the American success in 2017.
It was cool. Me and Courtney (London silver medallist Frerichs) both had the best races of our lives. I think that in that moment of the race, she was right on my shoulder, and seeing that she was still with me made me feel confident that we could do it and to continue pressing.
We definitely had an energy fighting up there together, which was cool. She and I are friends and we talk outside of track so it was really fun to get to experience that with her. In big championship races, anything is possible and I think Courtney and I proved that in 2017 and hope to continue to prove that in Doha and in competing in 2020 as well.
What is your approach to Doha?
I’m lucky that I have an auto qualifier for Doha from winning in 2017. The beauty of having that auto qualifier is that I can really just focus all my training on Doha.
Doha is going to be hot and it’s going to be a battle but Rio was definitely hot and I did well there, getting the bronze medal. The race is still 3000m and hopefully right around nine minutes so I’m just going to approach it like I do most races and be prepared for anything.
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