Praught-Leer's experiment in 1,500m fails, but...

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Doha, Qatar — Aisha Praught-Leer experimental run in the women's 1500m ended abruptly as she just missed out on qualification to the semi-final, clocking 4:09.81 minutes in heat two yesterday.

Rababe Arafi of Morocco won in 4:08.32 minutes ahead of Winny Chebet of Kenya with 4:08.36. Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia snatched third in 4:08.39 minutes.

With the top six in each of the three heats advancing automatically, Praught-Leer was left to sweat anxiously to see if she had advanced as one of the fastest losers. She didn't.

“It was really physical out there. I was not used to being pushed and all that stuff. So I moved around a lot. I tried to hold my position wanting to hang on around position three or four and I did that well but I had to make a lot of move to stay there,” she pointed out.

“But I think that had I relaxed a little bit more, a little earlier I would have had one more gear in that last 50m. But I was very aware and counting the bodies,” said Praught-Leer.

The American-born athlete, who started representing Jamaica in the 2000-m steeplechase, decided to give the 1500m a one-year experiment, citing that it was more appropriate for her skill sets and this was her first test in this event.

But she had no real top-level competition coming in and she thought that might have affected her.

“Yea, it's a totally different game. Steeplechase is the fittest person wins generally. It's more difficult than a 1500. It's more physical, it's more tactical and I am learning and I hope that I could make a lateral move and be someone in the best in the world right away,” said Praught-Leer.

“But it's humbling, I am learning as I go and hoping that I am showing signs that it is coming and I can be one of the best in the world. So I just need practice.

But Praught-Leer said her times in training had left her believing that she could make her mark and that her speed is coming around.

“We are seeing the signs. We are seeing little things in practice. We have run a couple of very quick 300s and 200s so we just working on transitioning that inside a race when you are changing place, you are being pushed and staying calm in that moment and that's really important for 1500 and that's where I need the practise,” she said.

“I am really enjoying it. I was enjoying the steeplechase and having success with it but I am really enjoying this new challenge and I am really enjoying the training for it.

“But we will have to see if I can't be at the top level and I want to be at the top level whatever it is…steeple, 1500m, 5K, that's where I want to be; we are just experimenting,” reiterated Praught-Leer.

— Howard Walker