By the evening of July 7, American middle-distance runner Emma Coburn hopes to secure her status a two-time Olympian. If she finishes among the top three in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the U.S. Olympic Trials, she’ll earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team that’s headed to the Rio de Janeiro, where she’ll to be one of the top American medal contenders.
But for now, she’s all the rage because of her inclusion in ESPN The Magazine’s The Body Issue 2016. That’s where athletes in a variety of sports are photographed entirely naked—in a tasteful manner—while mimicking the movements of their sport. (Among the other athletes included in this year’s Body Issue are Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller, wrestler Adeline Gray, former Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis, fencer Nzingha Prescod and New England Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork.)
Coburn, 25, lives in Boulder, Colo., but the photo shoot was done in Crested Butte, Colo., where she grew up and went to high school.
“I think that The Body Issue is tasteful, beautiful and a once in a lifetime experience for an athlete to be a part of. I’m humbled to be included on the list of athletes who have been in it,” Coburn said.
The issue was released on newsstands on July 6, when the photos also appeared on ESPN.com. It’s interesting timing for Coburn, who will run in the finals of the 3,000 steeplechase at the U.S. Olympic Trials at 7:48 p.m. PT on July 7 in Eugene, Ore. She won her semifinal heat on July 4 in 9:35.28, which is the fastest time heading into the finals.
Coburn is coming off a ninth-place finish at the London Olympics in 2012 and a fifth-place finish at the 2015 IAAF World Championships. Plus, she owns the third-fastest time in the world this year in the 1.86-mile race that involves running 7.5 laps around the track and leaping over 28 barriers and seven water jumps in the process.
A former All-American runner for the University of Colorado, she’s a four-time U.S. champion in the event. She broke the American record on May 28 with a 9:10.76 effort at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene.