By Becky Wade
You know that feeling you get when you see something really special unfold, not knowing exactly what it means but recognizing that things will be different after? The history of sport is full of those goosebump-inducing moments: breakthroughs and buzzer-beaters, clutch plays and upsets, inexplicable displays of strength and poise. This is the stuff that inspires Disney plots. It’s also the stuff that isplack was built on.
Last Friday, the world witnessed one of those history-making moments, and won’t soon forget it. At the 2017 IAAF World Track and Field Championships (essentially the Olympics of a non-Olympic year), hosted by London, a duo of American runners not only defied the odds but pulled off a feat that even the strongest optimist wouldn’t have predicted: for the first time ever, two Americans finished one-two in a world championship distance race.
In just over nine minutes, that 3,000-meter steeplechase represented everything awesome about athletics. There was drama, when one of the pre-race favorites from Kenya failed to advance to the final, and again when the race leader (also a Kenyan) totally forgot to cut in and hurdle the first water barrier. There was grit, when a collision involving a few competitors brought forth some gutsy attempts to rally back and catch the lead pack. There was teamwork, when Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs—the two women wearing red, white, and blue—blew by the field in the late stages to clinch that coveted hardware. And most memorably, there was passion, and lots of it:
With that, a new era of USA track and field began. As a female American distance runner myself—primarily a marathoner, but I’ve also raced the steeplechase at two U.S. Olympic Trials—the standard that Emma and Courtney raised affects me personally. It’s proof that there’s always a chance, and it’s a challenge too: to up my game and be ready to strike when that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity arises.
If you have 60 seconds to spare, I strongly suggest you watch the race highlights here: https://twitter.com/iaaforg/status/896142847459549184.
If you have a few moments more, I dare you to watch Emma’s sister’s reaction without tearing up here: https://twitter.com/SInow/status/896121879899111424/video/1.
Finally, you can find read a great recap for the non-track expert here: http://www.espn.com/espnw/sports/article/20318081/iaaf-world-athletics-championships-2017-emma-coburn-courtney-frerichs-finish-1-2-women-steeplechase-final.