World champ Coburn hails Praught-Leer - 'She would have finished in the top 5'
World champion in the 3000 metres steeplechase Emma Coburn admitted that she was surprised with her win in London and believes Jamaican Aisha Praught-Leer would have finished in the top five if she was not injured going into the final.
Coburn and Praught-Leer, the national record holder in the event, train together in the high-altitude environs of Colorado, and the World champion was full of praise for the Jamaican as she plots another surprise result at today's IAAF Diamond League final in Zurich at the Letzigrund Stadium.
The American, who was following up on last year's bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, clocked 9:02.58, registering a new area record and smashing her previous best of 9:07.63 on her way to winning her first gold medal at a senior global championship.
Praught-Leer, who arrived in London as the 10th fastest in the event in 2017, having lowered the Jamaican record to 9:19.29 in Doha in May, was expecting to continue her improvements in London but was hampered by a leg injury suffered a couple of days earlier during the preliminary round of the event. Praught-Leer crossed the line down the field but was later disqualified for an infringement of the inside border on the approach to the water jump.
"She (Praught-Leer) and her husband, Will, uprooted their lives and took a risk to move to Colorado for training, and it's really been going well," said Coburn, who also credited Praught-Leer for contributing to her own preparations for her London gold-medal assault.
"Aisha is such a positive person and is extremely talented and pushes me. She is right by my side for most of my workouts. We definitely feed off each other, and push each other and had she not injured herself in the prelims, I think she would have definitely finished about fifth (in the final) in 9:10.00 or faster."
"She is talented, very hard working, and I am lucky to have her as a training partner," added Coburn, who ran to meet the Jamaican at the finish line in London before hugging her after the event.
Coburn was certainly not most persons' pre-championship favourite in the event, and she admitted that the result was also a shock for her.
"It feels really good. I did not expect it. I was very surprised, and I think going into it, I thought if I was totally perfect, I could maybe get third, but realistically, fourth or fifth place was where I was seeded and where I thought I would end up, so I was totally surprised," said Coburn of her London win.
She will have to overcome the likes of event standouts Ruth Jebet, Beatrice Chepkoech, Chepteek Chespol, and Hyvin Kiyeng if she is to pull off another surprise in Zurich and walk away with the US$50,000 prize money and Diamond Race trophy.