Praught-Leer still hopeful after drama-filled 3,000m steeplechase

Saturday, August 12, 2017

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London , England — Jamaica's Aisha Praught-Leer's dramatic career continued as she was once again disqualified from the 3,000m steeplechase for the second-consecutive World Championships.

An injured Praught-Leer finished 14th in the 3,000m steeplechase final, limping home in 9:44.22 minutes, but was later disqualified for breaking rule 163.3 (b), which relates to infringement of the inside border.

She was unaware that she had been disqualified when speaking to journalists in the mixed zone

Ironically, it was the same violation that caused her disqualification when she made her debut for Jamaica at the Beijing World Championships in 2015, but it was a performance she cherished.

Only last year at the Rio Olympics, Praught-Leer was involved in an incident that also left Etenesh Diro of Ethiopia and Sara Louise Treacy of Ireland lying on the track.

Diro became a celebrity for finishing that heat after the incident wearing only one shoe. All three athletes advanced to the final, where Praught-Leer beat Diro to finish in 14th place.

Praught-Leer had qualified fairly comfortably in 9.26.37 minutes for yesterday's final and had hoped to finish the race incident-free.

But she limped home some distance behind the winner in a time that suggested that something was terribly wrong.

“It doesn't feel good at all,” Praught-Leer remarked about her misfortunes.

“In the preliminary a woman fell in front of me and I reached my left foot out to get over her without incident, and I ended up jamming my foot really badly. I wasn't able to cool down or run. I took my first running steps since that incident just before my warm-up,” she revealed.

“Adrenline got me through and my body is too exhausted from the stress to really be able to respond today,” she added.

Praught-Leer's training partner Emma Coburn of the US, earned the first-ever global women's 3,000m steeplechase title for her country in a historic final here,winning in 9:02.58 minutes and breaking the African dominance. Her compatriot Courtney Frerichs snatched silver in 9:03.77 minutes ahead of Kenya's defending champion Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi, who clocked 9:04.03 minutes for bronze.

Praught-Leer, who crossed the line 42 seconds later, hugged Coburn as they celebrated. But despite her injury, Praught-Leer showed resilience and courage though the pain barrier.

“I worked so hard for this. I changed my life and everything to become a better athlete for me and my family. I could not, not finish. This means everything to me and I wanted to be there today and for my training partner who just won today. I couldn't not start,” she pointed out.

“I'd like to think of myself as very tough. I could have very easily not gone on that line. Yesterday was one of the worse days of my life trying to get here today (Friday). So I am resilient and one day things are gonna work out for me,” said an optimistic Praught-Leer.

She has shown remarkable improvement in the steeplechase, bringing down her time from 9:36.63 minutes in 2015 to 9:31.75 in 2016, to a national record of 9:19.29 which ranks her 11th in the world coming into the World Championships.

“The chips are going to fall right for me to kind of have the success. What I can do is focus on what I can execute and what I can control. I did everything in my control and I was able to cross the finish line,” said Praught-Leer.

Praught-Leer's story has been an interesting one where she only met her musician Jamaican father Joseph “Blue” Grant a few years ago in Berlin, Germany, and decided to switch allegiance to Jamaica.

— Howard Walker




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