Emma Coburn out to break records in 2021

The American steeplechase athlete has laid out her goals for the upcoming year including adding a second Olympic medal to her collection

Picture by 2019 Getty Images

A New Year generally means setting new goals.

Emma Coburn, a Rio 2016 bronze medallist in the 3,000m steeplehase, has three goals she's looking to achieve in 2021.

"I want to win the Olympic trials in the US qualify for the Olympics then I want to win a medal in Tokyo and break the American record," she told the Olympic Channel podcast.

On top of that, the two-time World Championship medallist hopes that she will be able to beat Courtney Frerich's American record of 9:00.85 by going sub-nine minutes. And she's feeling positive about having a good shot at it.

"I'm feeling strong and as fit as I've ever been at this time of the year so I think, assuming I can keep this schedule going, those are all attainable goals," Coburn said. "It's going to be hard and it might not all work out the way I dream but I'm definitely working towards those things."

Ready for 2020 then...

As the world celebrated entering into a new decade, it took quite an unexpected turn in March when for the first time in history the Olympic and Paralympic Games were postponed.

With the 2019 World Athletics Championships held later than usual, it acted as good momentum heading into an Olympic year with Tokyo 2020 being just several months away as Coburn explained.

"I think 2019, mentally, I really crossed into new boundaries and territories with a few different race tactics and obviously an increased level of fitness. The momentum was there."

Having to re-assess her plans come mid-March, with an extra 12 months to the Olympics, Coburn has been fully focussed on her training.

"I've been focussing on trying to become a better, stronger athlete with very little stress actually," she said.

"I've been doing my best to focus on me and my progress with the hopes next summer we will be able to compete in a healthy place and run fast, and hopefully win another Olympic medal."

Addiction to a podium finish

"I've become addicted to that podium so I hope I'll be up there again in Tokyo," Coburn admitted.

Since her bronze medal at Rio - which she recalls as a physically hard race - the 30-year-old hasn't had trouble standing on the podium time and time again.

At the 2017 World Championships, she became the first American woman to win gold in the steeplechase while also breaking her own American record which she had set the previous year at the Rio 2016 Games.

Then last year at the World Championships in Doha, she came away with a silver in her event.

It is impossible to forget that she is also an eight-time United States National Champion with six of those victories coming back-to-back.

"I think coming into this next Olympics that’s a feeling [standing on a podium with an Olympic medal] I really want to have again. So I'm really looking forward to that opportunity."

Emma Coburn
Picture by 2016 Getty Images

US Trials prepares Team USA

The US Trials are known for being tough with only the top three finishers making the Olympic Team.

It doesn't matter it the athlete is a world champion, a world record or even the best in the country, a false start, a bad day, being ill or injured could crush their chances of reaching the Olympic stage.

"One year I had food poisoning at the US Champions [trials for World Champions] in 2017 and I just had to carry on," Coburn recalled as the same process to select the Olympic team is used for the World Championship team.

"It was a super hot day. I just had to race be tough and hope that my fitness was good enough to carry me through."

And while it can be stressful, the Olympian believes that it helps Team USA athletes prepare under pressure.

"I do think it prepares Team USA to compete well at the Olympics and World Championships because we've already done the pressure."

"We know that the people who've made that team have performed well under peak pressure at trials. They know how to peak, they know how to treat their bodies right, they know the system that will have them perform at their best in a stressful environment so although it's challenging... I do think it preps Team USA to perform really well on the big stages."

Catch the US Olympic Trials - Track and Field taking between 18-27 June, 2021 in Eugene, Oregon.

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