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'This win is for everyone' - Aisha Praught-Leer, 3000m steeplechase gold medallist, celebrates

Published:Wednesday | April 11, 2018 | 12:00 AMAndrÈ Lowe/Sports Editor
Jamaica's Aisha Praught-Leer celebrates after collecting the gold medal for winning the 3000 metres steeplechase at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia yesterday. Collin Reid/Photographer: Courtesy of Guardian Life, Courts, VMBS, Sports Development Foundation and Alliance Investments.

For history-making Jamaican middle distance athlete Aisha Praught-Leer, living outside of the norm is perfectly normal.

That she would become the first Jamaican to win a senior international gold medal in the 3000m steeplechase seems a bit like destiny.

Born in Mississippi, fathered by a Jamaican musician, who she only met a few years ago, and now representing Jamaica in the middle distances, Praught-Leer's story is unique.

It was only right that she did something unusual by writing a new chapter in Jamaican track and field history, after topping the podium at the Commonwealth Games on Australia's Gold Coast yesterday.

The value of the achievement is certainly not lost on the 28-year-old, who produced a well-timed race, attacking pre-championships favourite Celliphine Chespol (Kenya), 9:22.61, at the final water jump before hitting another gear and running away with the win in a time of 9:21.00. The bronze medal went to another Kenyan, Purity Kirui, 9:25.74.

"This win is for everyone," an excited Praught-Leer told The Gleaner shortly after collecting her gold medal at the Carrara Stadium.

"Anything is possible, and I would like to dedicate this medal to my husband, my family, my massive support team, my coach and training partners, and, of course, to our beautiful country!"

 

SUFFERING BEFORE TRIUMPH

 

Disqualified in the final at last year's World Championships in London and a 14th-place finish at the Rio Olympics a year earlier, Praught-Leer has had to learn to suffer before arriving at triumph.

A relocation along with husband Will from their longtime Oregon base to the high altitude of Colorado was a personal sacrifice that she was determined to make count.

The athlete is hoping that her success will help to encourage the country's middle-distance runners. "This means everything to me, and I hope it means everything to every middle-distance runner in Jamaica," Praught-Leer added.

Praught-Leer is the national record holder in the event with a time of 9:19.29.