06 June, 2018

Meeting Record the Target for Coburn

World 3,000m steeplechase champion, Emma Coburn has thrilled the Norwegian athletics community by announcing her intention to break the meeting record at tomorrow evening’s Bislett Games.

The 27-year-old Olympic bronze medallist clocked 9:08.13 for fourth place despite falling in the Rome IAAF Diamond League last week, and she now has the 9:07.14 six-year-old record - held by Kenya’s Milcah Chemos - in her sights in Oslo.

The American - whose 9:02.58 lifetime best (which broke the American record) was set en route to her global victory last summer - spoke confidently ahead of her debut race in Norway:

“It would be great if the athletes could go with the pace tomorrow - I want to take the meeting record and a big goal of mine this year is to break nine minutes so I need to really go for it,” she revealed.

“I only have a few chances to run under nine minutes left this year - tomorrow, in Monaco and in Brussels. 

“Tomorrow, I hope to run the record and get close to the world lead (9:04.96) - I just need to make sure I remain committed to the pace after the rabbits (pace-makers) drop out in the second half.”

Having registered a fine 8:41.16 3,000m personal best indoors this winter, Coburn explained:

“My other goals (in 2018) are to win the US championships and to be in contention to win the Diamond League trophy at the final in Brussels.

“The (sub-nine minute) time will hopefully come but I need to run aggressively in every race.

“I’m in shape to do it - I felt too strong and aggressive in Rome, I genuinely thought I would win until the final water-jump when I fell but that’s how it goes and I am ready for tomorrow, the pace is perfect for me.”

On which other events she enjoys spectating, Coburn revealed:

“I enjoy watching the 400m hurdles as I can see how challenging the final straight is and I also like the 800m and 1500m - they are wild events which entertain me, I can feel the pain they feel and I admire the determination they show.”

The Norwegians meanwhile, will have Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal to cheer on, as the former long distance runner has recently reverted back to her steeplechasing roots.

The 2016 European 10,000m bronze medallist - who turns 28 next Thursday (the 14th) - holds the 9:13.35 national record in the event, which she set shortly after failing to finish the world championship 5,000m final in London last summer.

The Olympic 5,000m seventh placer and 10,000m finalist spoke of her intriguing discipline switch:

“It’s my first Diamond League steeplechase in seven or eight years but I’m excited to run,” she insisted.

“It will be a tough, fast race but I hope I can have a good day. I will only compete in the steeplechase this year and the European (Championships in Berlin in August) is my aim.”

Having recorded a swift 4:06.18 1500m lifetime best in May and a 3,000m 8:37.58 personal best last summer, Grøvdal evidently still has the speed endurance to excel at her first love.

Sixth in the Bislett Games mile with a 4:26.23 national record in 2016 and seventh over 5,000m in the 2015 edition, she has fond memories of competing in the competition:

“My goal is to keep up with Emma and the others, I will try for as long as I can,” she explained.

“The steeplechase is new for me (of late) so I need more races to really get into it.”

Listing the men’s 400m hurdles as her ‘event to watch’ because of home hero and world champion, Karsten Warholm gracing the start line, Grøvdal also likes to keep an eye on her former 5,000m event despite her change of allegiance in 2018.  

NICOLA SUTTON FOR THE BISLETT GAMES MEDIA TEAM