We never truly know what happens to our checked luggage once we part ways with it at the airport, and U.S. track and field superstar Emma Coburn found this out the hard way.
After dominating the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the U.S. Olympic Trials to win by more than three seconds, the 25-year-old Coburn wrapped up a spot at the Rio Games. This was Coburn's fifth national championship in the past six years. But this time, there was an unexpected twist.
After arriving home from the Trials, she was treated with the unfortunate surprise of finding some damaged goods in her checked bags:
Unpacking from the Olympic Trials. Looks like TSA broke my medal. Big piece of glass broken off and missing pic.twitter.com/Mo2unXHqZL
— emma coburn (@emmajcoburn) July 10, 2016
Fortunately for the 2013 Colorado graduate, USA Track and Field promptly responded:
— USATF (@usatf) July 10, 2016
While the physical replacement of the championship medal is rewarding, Coburn did already own four of those. But what she didn't have until this week's debacle was the street smarts to leave the hardware in her carry-on, a piece of knowledge she shared with her following of more than 24,000 on Twitter:
To everyone concerned about #MedalGate, USATF is sending a new one and yes, I will pack medals my carry on next time
— emma coburn (@emmajcoburn) July 12, 2016
The tip may very well come in handy soon, as Coburn – who set the American record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in May at the Prefontaine Classic – will enter the Olympics with the world's third best mark in 2016 and a great chance at earning her first Olympic medal. The opening heats of the steeplechase at the Olympics are August 13.