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bsn BSN: Coburn’s medal shows Forever Buffs know no borders

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Aug 17, 2016.

  1. RSSBot

    RSSBot News Junkie

    Jul 8, 2005
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    The following piece was written and submitted by BSN Denver contributor, Matt Sisneros. He can be followed on Twitter, @Matt_Sisneros.

    RIO DE JANEIRO — I had never been to a track meet or anything like that, so when getting off of the train at Olympic Stadium in the Maracanã area of Rio, I didn’t really know what to expect. Of course, I had watched the track and field events on television during previous Olympics, and this being my thirteenth day in Brazil’s idyllic coast town, I had been to a handful of Olympic events already.

    But this was different—different because there was a fellow Buff, Emma Coburn, running in the 3000m steeplechase final.

    If you don’t know what the steeplechase is, it’s basically running around the track with 30-inch tall hurdles and puddles of water in the way to make it more interesting. Deriving from races that used to be run by horses, jumping walls and streams, it is definitively an Olympic event I could not compete in. Wet socks, suck. I wonder if they wear special shoes to keep the water out, or maybe they don’t even wear socks? As you can tell, I still have some questions about the specifics of the event.

    I arrived to Olympic Stadium and there were still 200m heats being run, the men’s steeplechase heats, triple jump heats, and the final for women’s hammer throw were all happening all before Emma’s run. Had her race come earlier, that’s all my day would have been, not that I’d complain. Since she went last, I saw a big Polish woman break her own world record in the hammer throw, as well as athletes come in last place in the men’s steeplechase despite setting personal bests. If anyone could find a way to really put the Olympics into perspective for, try seeing that. Countries sent their best athletes, who then ran their best time ever, and still weren’t even close to qualifying for the finals. That’s insane. That’s heartbreaking. That’s the Olympics.

    The women’s 3000m steeplechase finally queued up and the runners came through a tunnel, were introduced, and lined up at the starting line. There she was, the Colorado legend, ready to compete on the world’s largest stage.

    The gun goes off and after the first three laps, Emma is leading the pack. Over the course of the 3000m race, the athletes complete seven and one-half laps around, meaning it’s time for me to get up and find a better spot for watching the finish line because, from my seat, I can’t see anything. Here I am, sprinting around the stadium before finally finding where I want to be. It’s media only, of course. So I just watch as laps four and five come around, from the hallway. Now would be the time for me to say that I’m a pretty superstitious guy when it comes to sports. Coburn drops into fourth place by three-seconds. I sprint back to my seat. The athlete in front of Coburn has a rough landing in the water, breaking her rhythm. After that one little mistake, which is all it takes here in Rio, Coburn moves into third place. Sweat is beading down my skin, my heart rate pulsing.

    She wasn’t expected to medal, yet Coburn crossed the line in third. But it was so much more than a bronze medal. In the process of finishing third, Coburn set a new American record and became the first woman to ever medal in steeplechase for the United States.

    In May, I finished my own race, graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder. We’re both Buffs, both part of the same community. It is a community that I was and still am proud to be a part of. In those moments, thousands of miles away from Boulder, I was proud to have witnessed the brilliance of Emma Coburn.

    I walked back over to the section I wanted to watch the finish from because that’s where the podium was. Throughout the section, shouts of “Go Buffs” rained down. I had forgotten, but I was wearing a CU shirt and had stumbled into what seemed like the entire Coburn family and friends with “Team Emma” hats and shirts.

    That’s the power of the Olympics, sure. But it’s the power of the Buffs and the connections we build within our community, the family we build together. As one would expect, the whole group was a bit overflowing with emotion (not to mention beer) during the medal ceremony. The medal ceremony that I got to watch live, in Rio, in Brazil, one Buff cheering on another.

    William Whelan
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