Sat | Dec 15, 2018

'My best moment ever' - Praught-Leer relives Commonwealth glory

Published:Friday | October 26, 2018 | 12:00 AMHubert Lawrence/ Gleaner Writer
Praught-Leer
Aisha Praught-Leer during the 2018 Commonwealth Games medal ceremony.
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Steeplechaser Aisha Praught-Leer has had plenty to smile about since she started to run for Jamaica, but pinpoints her win at the Commonwealth Games as the best moment since her debut for the country in 2015.

Speaking to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Praught-Leer says that the Commonwealth triumph was even sweeter because no one expected it.

According to the champion, her big day on the Gold Coast, host city of the Games, was as nice as the day she married Will Leer, the American 1500-metre runner.

That win made Aisha the first Jamaican to win a Commonwealth gold medal in an event longer than 800 metres.

"I know I probably should say 'marrying Will [Leer], that was my high', but I think it'll have to be a tie between marrying Will and winning the Commonwealth Games," said Praught-Leer.

The 29-year-old Jamaican recalled, "During the first kilometre when all the Kenyans went to the front and they were three-abreast to slow the field down, I remember looking to my left and seeing Gen LaCaze was there and I took a deep breath knowing that I could do it."

Then came a key decision. "The second moment was when Celliphine Chespol pulled away and I decided to go with her, and the third one was realising with 300 metres to go that the race wasn't over, that I could potentially still win, making that decision to just go for it and then the total elation for five minutes afterwards", said Praught-Leer.

The Commonwealth gold medal was a target few thought she could attain.

"I guess when you're going for a really big goal, you believe it and you think it's possible, but nobody else thinks that", she explained. "My small circle, we knew that it was a possibility, but nobody else really counted me in", she said of a race she won in 9 minutes 21.00 seconds. "In the pre-race write ups, I wasn't even mentioned in most of them."

 

Steeplechase Crown

 

The teenaged Chespol and her Kenyan teammate Purity Cherui finished second and third. LaCaze ended the race in fifth position. Later in the season, Chespol retained her World Under-20 steeplechase crown.

Titles are clearly important to her because she didn't mention the advances she has made with the Jamaican record. In 2018 alone, she scared her old mark of 9 minutes 19.29 seconds with a close miss by 0.04 in Rome before zapping it off the books with a run of 9.14.09 in Brussels.

She cited her career low as an untimely tendon injury that hampered her in her Jamaica debut at the 2015 World Championships. Since then, she ran in the 2016 Olympic final and advanced to the 2017 World Championship final as well.