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The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

World champ

Senior takes discus gold

The rain poured down as senior Emma Sralla stepped out of the bus to face the practice arena for the World Athletics U20 Championships in Cali, Colombia.

Similar in prestige to the Olympics, the championship is one of the largest track and field meets in the world with 20 plus nations competing with their top athletes.

On August 3, 2022, the top world athletes shuffled out of the bus as they anxiously waited to hear news from their coaches about the delayed track events.

Typically Emma would be pacing around and fidgeting just before competing. Since this was a global competition, she expected herself to feel the same nerves.

But instead, Emma calmly dozed off at the practice arena thinking that her discus event was delayed until the next day. As she was in deep sleep, the announcer’s voice rang over the arena, calling her name “Emma Sralla.”

• • •

She has all the pressure in the world because she established herself as this phenomenal person.

— Corey Wales, track and field coach

On July 15, 2021, Emma competed in the international European Discus Championships for the Sweden team. Since her mother is Swedish, Emma is a dual citizen.

She had stepped into the national discus world for the first time in Tallinn, Estonia and competed against world top athletes. Emma had to advance through 1 round of 3 throws to compete against the best top 12 athletes. She had surpassed the distance needed for the first round and made it to the second round, throwing a distance of 158-2 and placing 11th.

She was the youngest competitor on her team.
Although Emma was content with her placement, she immediately started preparing for her next big meet. Her next challenge, one that she’s dreamed of for years was winning first in the World Athletics Championship.

“I felt super motivated again,” Emma said. “I felt like I was ready to attack the next season.”

Emma qualified for the World Athletics Championship because of her previous throws’ distance.

When Emma was finally approved to compete with the Sweden team once again, she was ecstatic.

On Aug. 1, Emma traveled to Cali, Colombia for the competition. Her days started off strong. Emma and her teammates had a team breakfast before cheering on her Swedish teammates.

When the day for Emma to compete finally came, she was nervous and broke out in hives. Even though she had worked on building her confidence for so long, this was going to be the biggest meet of her life.

“That was all a little bit stressful. I was constantly having to think about my health,” Emma said.

Emma tosses her discus in the air, preparing for her throw at the championships. (Photo courtesy of Marta Gorczynska at the World Athletics Championship.)

Coach Corey Wales, Emma’s track and field coach, has seen the mental pressure that she has put upon herself to win the championships, but acknowledged how far she has come.

“She has all the pressure in the world because she established herself as this phenomenal person. So now she carries a big burden,” Wales said. “She’s conquering that and it’s really, really fun to see.”

But this time, Emma had the confidence due to her previous experience competing at a national meet.

“I had the experience of the European Championship, because it’s a lot of the same coaches and everything like that,” Emma said. “It was super, super cool to kind of feel comfortable in that space.”

As Emma stepped into Colombia, she was surrounded by athletes that were the same caliber as her and felt more comfortable in her abilities. She had no longer felt outmatched among the world-class athletes.

“I felt less impostor syndrome,” Emma said. “It felt less like I was around all these crazy athletes and it felt more like I get to be one of these amazing athletes soon.”

• • •

Emma didn’t hear her name called at the practice arena the day of the big meet.

The coach tapped on Emma to wake her up from her deep sleep ushering her to go to the center where they were calling her for attendance. Instead of panicking, she woke up relaxed. She was free of all her anxiousness and was ready to take on the meet.

“When I woke up, no nerves,” Emma said. “I felt no nervousness, I felt completely at home. And I felt super energized.”
The time had come for her to throw.

• • •

Emma stepped into the arena with the stadium lights shining brightly on her as the crowd watched.

Her view of the people in the arena was blocked by the green net engulfing her. Her only view was the field out in front. She drowned out the noises of the crowd and other athletes onlooking. She only focused on throwing.

Emma threw her first disc against the net, a foul. She took a step back to compose herself. There are three throws per round. Emma only had two more throws left to make it to the next round.
She took a deep breath and launched the discus.

She had thrown 178-8 inches.

Emma jumped with joy, as she had made it to finals.

I felt completely at home… I felt energized.

— Emma Sralla,12

Watching Emma throw on TV, her mother, Anna Sralla, was overjoyed at her attempt. Anna said that if she didn’t get another throw, she felt like Emma was going to come home happy.

“When she got that second one I felt like that was good enough where she could be proud of it,” Anna said.

Emma made it to the finals. But she had her eye on winning it all. This was the moment that her years of training and dedication counted. Going into the last three throws, Emma wasn’t in the lead.

Her two biggest competitors were throwers from Greece and South Africa.

“Both of those (the throws) made me really nervous to watch them at that point… I just wanted her to have a performance she’d be happy with,” Anna said.
Emma stepped into the ring one last time.

She placed herself in position with one foot forward and one foot back and shook out her nerves. Honing in on her technique, she swung her last throw and watched it soar into the sky.

The results announced a throw of 184-2, making Emma the champion. The average discus throw for high-level women competitors is around 120 feet. She had almost surpassed the average by 65-6.

Emma proudly ran with the Swedish flag on her back . She laid on the track with her hands covering her face in disbelief as she soaked in the moment. She had given Sweden its 12th U20 gold medal.

“She’s definitely earned every medal … because she’s so dedicated to this,” Anna said.

Senior Emma Sralla celebrates with the Swedish flag after placing first in U20 discus World Athletics Championships on Aug. 3. (Photo courtesy of Marta Gorczynska at the World Athletics Championship.)
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About the Contributor
Aishani Raju, Business Manager/Reporter
Aishani Raju (she/her) is a senior and a second year reporter on the Marquee. You’ll probably see her reading up on the latest mystery novels or blasting SZA and Harry Styles in the car. If you don’t find her constantly out hiking or doing anything outdoorsy, she’ll be at home attempting to cook up new recipes. She’s looking forward to bonding with the staff this year and having a great year!

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