Jun 7, 2020
In this episode, we learn the fascinating back story of how Aisha Praught Leer became a Commonwealth Games champion in the steeplechase, while also evolving into an outspoken champion for #cleansport.
Aisha grew up in Illinois where she competed in a variety of sports but developed an initial focus in competitive cheerleading. In a twist of fate, cheerleading politics led her to quit that sport and turn her attention to the track where she found her niche in the mile before later adding the steeplechase while in college at Illinois State University. At Illinois State, she finished 2nd in the indoor mile in her senior year which would pave the way for her to turn pro and join the Oregon Track Club, where she made both World Championship and Olympic teams in 2015 and 2016, competing for Jamaica.
Later, she would move to Boulder to be coached by Joe Bosshard and train with steeplechase World Champion Emma Coburn (and others). After a disappointing 2017 World Championships, she came back strong in 2018 at the Commonwealth Games in the race of her life where she earned a gold medal in the steeplechase with a come-from-behind victory over Kenyan Celliphine Cesspol.
In this interview, Kara and Chris discuss it all with Aisha including how she came to compete for Jamaica, what it was like turning pro including the "baptism by fire" that was joining the Oregon Track Club, why she made the switch to train with Emma Coburn in Colorado, and what it's been like living in a two-athlete household with her husband and fellow pro runner Will Leer.
Finally, Aisha provides her perspective on clean sport by sharing her first exposure to other athletes doping and what has led to her be more outspoken on the topic. She talks about how cheaters change the dynamics of races and how the psychological impact of cheating goes well beyond the result for clean athletes. She calls for lifetime bans for dopers, and she gives crystal clear ideas on what can be done to build a better future. We know it's not easy to stand up and use your voice, but we can't thank Aisha enough for leading by example with both her actions and her words.