Fri | Sep 22, 2017

I wanted to do more – Praught

Published:Tuesday | August 16, 2016 | 8:00 AM
Aisha Praught clears the hurdle while competing in the women's 3000m steeplechase final at the 2016 Rio Olympics inside the Olympic stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, yesterday.

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil:

Aisha Praught was not satisfied with just becoming the first Jamaican to run in an Olympic 3000m steeplechase final.

For her, it was not enough.

A message from her father before her race and the emotions around wearing the Jamaican kit on the biggest of sporting stage was too much to hold in. But as the tears flowed after her run at the Olympic Stadium yesterday, so did her passion for representing a country that she has only recently come to know.

Born in the United States to a Jamaican father and raised in Mississippi, Praught said she was proud of her accomplishment, but was also upset that she was not able to meet her goal and turn in a better performance.

"First of all, I am really happy to put our jersey in the final in the distances. I hope that people were watching and that people were inspired, and I know I will not be the last one to do this," she said after her 9:34.20 run, which left her in 14th position in the event, which was won by Bahrain's Ruth Jebet, 8:59.75.

"It means the world to represent like this, it's sort of surreal."

Still, for an emotional Praught, who a few weeks ago at the London Diamond League ran a personal best 9:31.75, yesterday's finish was not what she had planned.

"My goal was to leave it all on the track, and today, everything I had was not quite good enough. I know I am really fit and I know I have more than that," Praught said. "At the time, I did the best I could, and I left every bit of myself on the track. That's the end goal as an athlete - to give your all, and if you know you gave your all, you can walk away proud.

"I will walk away proud, but I will walk away upset. I wish I could have done more for our country today."

More tears.

Her decision to represent Jamaica was made largely after meeting her father, reggae singer Joseph 'Blue' Grant, for the first time in Germany three years ago. The deepening connections were a driving force for the 26-year-old, who shared the emotional value of experiencing this Olympic journey with family.

"He (Grant) was so impressed he said to me "You never gave up, you are a fighter", and I am, and it's so special to be able to share that with family. I know our relationship is new, but he got to see my heart on the track, and that is really meaningful to me. But this is all a dream come true," Praught added.

The silver medal in the event went to Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi (Kenya), 9:07.12, with the USA's Emma Coburn winning bronze in 9:07.63.

- A.L.