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Mississippi girl carries Ja hopes in steeplechase

first_imgLONDON, England: How does a girl from the banks of the Mississippi River come to be on the verge of representing Jamaica – of all events, in the 3,000 metres steeplechase at next month’s IAAF World Championships? A Jamaican in the steeplechase isn’t a totally unusual occurrence, but the bright-eyed Aisha Praught likens her Hollywood-style twist of fate to one of her favourite movies. “It’s like you grew up watching the movie Cool Runnings and I’m here now doing my own weird thing,” she laughed. The 25-year-old Oregon-based distance runner told The Gleaner that meeting her Jamaican father for the first time, two years ago in Berlin, played a big role in her decision to represent the Caribbean island that she has always felt deeply connected to. “I’m really excited, this will be my first appearance at the World Championships and I’m looking forward to having a spot on the line. Anybody on the line has a shot at doing something great so I’m excited about that,” said Praught, who was born in Wisconsin but grew up in Illinois, USA. Now, with a few weeks to go before Jamaica, known for its sprinters, enters athletes in the men’s 5,000m and women’s 800m in Beijing, Praught, who started out a sprinter, is hoping that she can help to drive new interest in the middle-to-long distances. “I think there is a wealth of distance-running talent that Jamaica has not realised yet. When I was in Jamaica at the trials, I was looking at the body types … it’s (distance running) probably not the cool thing to do, but I was really encouraged at the championships,” said Praught. “I spoke to a lot of them and I hope that more people will get involved and maybe that we can put it on a bigger level and some of the young Jamaicans can be inspired and try it.” “I think that I could potentially make a bigger impact that way and I hope to inspire someone, even just to get another pair of eyes on the event, get maybe a couple of kids curious. Maybe they have been running around and they are not the fastest, but they can outlast everyone else, maybe they will turn to the sport and distance running,” added Praught, who is already planning to return to Jamaica after the World Championships. The athlete who made her first trip to the island to compete at the National Senior Championships a few weeks ago, where she won the 1,500m in 4 :15.92, admitted that she never really considered representing the island until meeting her father a couple years ago. “I grew up knowing I was Jamaican, but I really didn’t know my father until I was an adult. I sort of just grew up with the knowledge that he was there, but I didn’t meet him until the summer of 2013 when I was in Europe, and he lives in Berlin. Our meeting was really life-changing; just looking into his eyes for the first time was really incredible,” Praught shared. “It’s like there was no time, like we always knew each other.” “It sort of felt serendipitous, it was like, all of a sudden, that was my identity. It was such a warm and welcoming feeling; it felt real and genuine and I felt like a part of myself that had been missing was suddenly there, and it just felt right,” she said of her subsequent decision to represent Jamaica. excited Now, Praught, who competed at the recent IAAF Diamond League meet in Monaco where she was the pace-setter for the women’s 3000m steeplechase, can hardly contain her excitement at the chance of wearing Jamaica’s gold singlet in Beijing next month. “I am so excited and a lot of my friends – I am pretty close with a lot of the American female steeplechasers and it has been the big topic. They are like ‘As soon as you get the kit, you have to send us some pictures,” Praught exclaimed. “Everyone is a little jealous, Jamaica is the coolest team in athletics and putting on that vest is going to feel amazing. I picture it every day and I can’t wait to see it.” Praught will be the first Jamaican entrant in the 3,000m steeplechase at the World Championships since Mardrea Hyman at the 2011 edition in Daegu. Hyman failed to finish in Daegu, as well as the 2008 Olympic Games, her last two major championships. Korine Hinds also represented Jamaica in the event up to the Daegu World Championships. – Andre Lowelast_img read more

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Football vs. Education

first_imgA very interesting debate is taking place on the Liberian football landscape – one that could determine whether the face of Liberia changes or remains the same.Liberian Football Association (LFA) Chair Musa Bility has decided that youths who are not actively enrolled in institutions of learning will not be allowed to take part in the annual county meet.Mr. George Weah, an internationally acclaimed Liberian soccer legend, has disagreed with Bility. Weah’s position is that young people whose parents cannot afford to send them to school should be given the opportunity to make something of themselves, even as he (Weah) himself did.Both men have valid points. Bility’s position could change the face of Liberian, yea African football. Having a squad of educated men on the national football team could make for increased discipline, something Liberian football has been sorely lacking. It would also send the important message across Africa that education and football are not mutually exclusive. That means that a player does not have to – and must not – choose between football (or any sport for that matter) and education.As many former American basketball stars have learned, a sports career is not a substitute for education. A young man can sign a multi-million dollar contract today, suffer an injury on the court and lose his career in six months.Due to lack of education and discipline, a talented young man with money who knows nothing about investing can follow the wrong crowd, spend his money on drugs, drinking, material possessions and women, and have nothing to show or leave to his children by the time his life is over.Mr. Weah may have been very fortunate to have had strong personal discipline as well as good mentors who gave him sound financial advice and taught him how to invest. Today, long after his sports career is over, he is not begging for scratch cards and living off women.Even so, however, Mr. Weah will admit that with all of his wealth, he himself has twice hit the glass ceiling that has stood between him and the one dream that constantly seems to evade him – the Liberian presidency. With no shortage of campaign financing, Mr. Weah twice lost the presidential elections to a woman whose education opened the door for her to acquire the requisite experience voters looked for in a president. That education and experience enabled her to speak for her country on an international stage, which earned Liberia’s credibility in the comity of nations and hence a seat at the table of decision making. Has she made mistakes? A ton. But Liberians were more willing to take the risk with education and experience than without. By contrast, the majority of those who voted for the less-educated candidate were themselves mostly uneducated.  We have to change that dynamic so that the entire voting population is able to make educated choices and decisions.Notwithstanding, Mr. Weah, clearly has a heart for the less fortunate, which stems from his own experience. The only problem is that his experience was more the exception than the norm. We cannot have a whole generation of children thinking they can all grow up to be King Pele. Out of a population of 3.5 million, everyone cannot play for AC Milan. We need to disabuse our children of that notion. We need to disabuse them of the notion that football is their only ticket out of poverty.The wonder of education is that it gives a man/woman options. If he breaks his leg today, once it heals, he can go into business.  Education also gives a man the keys to his own destiny. Without it, he cannot even read his own contract. Only his managers know exactly how much he is really worth.Weah has proposed that if only youths enrolled in schools are to be allowed to participate in the inter-county meet, then school should be free for all children. We disagree. The point is for our children not to lose focus on their education every time the meet comes around. They must understand that there are no short cuts to success.A young man from Paynesville grew up with a natural talent for soccer. He became a rising star and a member of the Lone Star’s U-20 team. One day, the coach announced that a select number of the group would be traveling to Greece. Elkhart Davis, as this young Liberian came to be known, was one hundred percent sure he would be selected. He would go to Greece and become a star. In the final lineup, the coach chose his son, a far lesser player. Elkhart Davis became a drunkard. All of his eggs were in the soccer basket that crashed.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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LADIES FOOTBALL: MOVILLE MINOR ULSTER SEMI-FINAL GETS GO-AHEAD

first_imgMOVILLE’S Minor Ladies take on Lurgan of Cavan at home tomorrow after their pitch was cleared to play this evening.The county champions semi-final game throws in at 1pm on Sunday.  LADIES FOOTBALL: MOVILLE MINOR ULSTER SEMI-FINAL GETS GO-AHEAD was last modified: December 5th, 2015 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:CavandonegalDonegal LGFALurganmovillelast_img

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