This week, an inquest into the death of aspiring Olympic athlete, Emma Brown, heard that the runner had been battling anorexia since the age of 13. Brown was found dead in her flat near Cambridge on 22 August 2018, at the age of 27.
Brown’s father, Simon Brown, described the former runner’s eating disorder as “a descent into hell”. Telling the inquest in Huntington how his daughter had developed an eating disorder after being bullied at school.
Miss Brown’s mother, Jay Edmunds-Grezio, told the inquest how her daughter would run 15 miles a day in an attempt to keep her weight low. Edmunds-Grezio described how the family tried to “turn this into a positive”, but described how the runner relapsed into disordered eating after suffering a stress fracture from the high mileage.
At the time, Brown trained with Bedford Harriers under the guidance of Alex Stanton, Paula Radcliffe’s former coach. Brown won an under-18 British cross-country championships titles. Her mother said, “in her mind she was heading for the Olympics, but she couldn’t control the amount she was running.”
The post-mortem examination recorded Brown’s medical cause of death as lung and heart disease, with anorexia and bulimia nervosa as contributory factors. The inquest heard how Brown’s case was among five anorexia deaths of patients treated by NHS services in the east of England region between 2012 and 2018. The assistant coroner for Cambridgeshire said he had “made no finding or determination” as to whether there was a “definite link” between the deaths. Separate inquests will be held.
Brown’s father described how his daughter had been admitted to the hospital multiple times and how she would steal money from the family, to spend at restaurants in Cambridge, before making herself sick. This amount ran into tens of thousands, with Mr Brown reporting his daughter to the police and admitting she spent a period of time homeless. He said, “this is an illness where the patient feared weight gain, she feared recovery, so fought against the help that was being offered.”
Brown’s mother told the inquest, “she really didn’t want to die. She became accepting that that was what was going to happen.”
Find more advice on spotting the signs of an eating disorder in a fellow runner here. For more information or help, contact your GP or find advice on the Beat website.
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