Feature | Athletics

Emma Coburn on Team USA Olympic trial stress, and 2021 targets

Rio 2016 steeplechase silver medallist Emma Coburn joined the Olympic Channel Podcast for a chat. Here are five things we learnt.

By Ed Knowles ·

World champion steeplechaser Emma Coburn has set her goals out for 2021 and they involve running some record-breaking times.

“I want to win the Olympic trials in the US, qualify for the Olympics, and then I want to win a medal in Tokyo,” she said to the Olympic Channel Podcast.

"I'm feeling [as] strong… as I've ever been at this time of the year." - Emma Coburn on breaking nine minutes in 3000m steeplechase

She’s been looking to duck under nine minutes for the 3000m steeplechase for a long time.

“I think, assuming that I can keep this schedule going, I think those are all really attainable goals.”

Here are four more things we discovered from our in-depth interview.

Emma Coburn: the stress of the 2020 U.S. Track and Field Olympic Team Trials

The Olympic trials for the USA team are notoriously brutal.

Show up injured or out of form, and not matter how big your name is, you won’t be going to the Olympics.

Only athletes who qualify on that day book their ticket to Tokyo 2020. Any prior performances don’t count.

“It is a little stressful,” Emma conceded through a smile.

“But I do think it prepares Team USA to compete really well at the Olympics or World Championships. And we do.

“We usually have a pretty high medal count. So I think it works.” - Emma Coburn on 2020 U.S. Track and Field Olympic Team Trials

Can Austin and Julian keep up with Emma Coburn’s steeplechase workout?

The fitness duo attempts an intense steeplechase training session with 2017...

Emma Coburn: Female representation in sport

Tokyo 2020 will be the first gender-balanced Olympic Games in history with 48.8 percent women’s participation.

Emma’s event, the steeplechase, was introduced into the Olympic programme for the first time in 2008.

“I feel pretty well represented that there's always a female category and a male category [in track and field].”

It creates true and genuine superstars like six-time Olympic champion Allyson Felix.

“There’s women that have children and come back and compete and win or you have these great rivalries of just dominant world record performances like Dalilah [Muhammad] and Sydney [McLaughlin]."

Emma Coburn competing at the 2017 World Championships in London 

Emma Coburn: Why I love the city of London

Coburn's first Olympic experience as an athlete was at London 2012.

Five years later, she became world champion in the same stadium.

It remains one of her favourite places to compete.

“There's always such a great crowd in London.

“The fans really love track and field, they love athletics and they really respond to performances. So whether you're a British athlete or an American or whoever, they just root for great performances and great competition. And so competing in a in the London Stadium is always a ton of energy."

Emma Coburn of USA became world champion in the 3,000m steeplechase in 2017

Emma Coburn: A new challenge with the Athletics Association

Double Olympic champion triple jumper Christian Taylor invited Emma to be the vice-president of a new organisation looking to amplify athletes voices within their sport.

“Christian, started the Athletics Association about a year ago in response to some decisions that had been made within track and field and our governing governing body.

“And he was feeling that the athlete voice wasn't being heard or respected. And so he founded this group and invited me to be a part of it alongside some really great board members.

“[And we are] really hoping to just get kind of a coalition of voices and get [the sport to] work in the ways that we think it should.”

Listen to the full interview on the Olympic Channel Podcast also available wherever you get your podcasts.