For the second time this summer, our little town was swept away cheering for Emma Coburn. After the 21 year-old CU athlete dominated the Steeplechase at the US Trials in Oregon to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Emma took 9th in the 3000 Meter Women’s Steeplechase Final with a personal best time of 9:23.54 at the Olympics just this Monday. Signs supporting Emma have been around town all summer with huge gatherings at local places like Maxwell’s and the Majestic Theater showing her races. Lucky for us, we have had the West Elk Project’s Olympic correspondent, Willy Coburn, on scene to let us in on what London has been like for Emma and her family.
While Emma was being a professional athlete preparing for her races in the Olympic village, Willy and family were able to be professional Americans abroad at London 2012. The Big Ben and Buckingham Palace were “super touristy, but still pretty sweet,” according to Willy. While admiring the fine architecture at the Horse Guards Parade, Willy was able to catch a few Beach Volleyball matches. Willy explained that Olympic Stadium itself was super-impressive. Being the fine journalist he is, Willy found out from a local Brit that the whole area was recently revitalized for the Olympics; “It used to just be marshland and a set of train tracks,” the local explained. Continuing his fine journalism, Willy and sister Gracie discovered that they do have karaoke in London and that you can get really lost over there.
Last Saturday, Emma made her Olympic debut. While her family was going crazy in the front row stands, Emma found herself in first place during her preliminary heat for most of the race after the runner from Portugal suddenly fell. She was passed with 600 meters remaining by Habiba Ghribi of Tunisia and Sofia Assefa, of Ethiopia, the two women who would take the silver and bronze medal in the final. Willy said after the race the family was buzzed with excitement while Emma was simply business as usual as she got ready for Monday’s final. You’d think that racing at the Olympics would frazzle any normal human being, but Willy told us that Emma was actually more overwhelmed during the opening ceremonies than she was at race time.
On Monday night in London, Team Coburn (consisting of Emma’s family and her boyfriend, fellow CU runner Joe Bosshard, and his parents) was put up in the nosebleeds to watch Emma’s final as people in Crested Butte and Boulder were glued to TV on a Colorado summer afternoon. Emma ran a personal best to get 9th against the best women in the world. After she crossed the finish Willy and the Coburn family were screaming loud enough that Emma was able see them way up at the top of the stadium among the 80,000 fans that fit at the Olympic Stadium (see the first photo for their view).
Now that her part in the Olympics are over, Emma has some time to relax and have fun with her family for a few days. Despite the down time, Emma can’t hang around for the closing ceremony as she races again in Stockholm, Sweden on August 17th. Keep in touch and follow Emma on Twitter: @emmajcoburn. For more from our Olympic correspondent, Willy Coburn, follow @mrcoburnIII, stalk his Facebook, or if you are lucky you can catch him being all he can be at local town league softball or hockey.