Moline can now boast having another professional athlete.
Former Maroon harrier Aisha Praught inked a contract on Thursday with Nike to run professionally for the swoosh.
Praught has been living in Eugene, Ore., since September, training with the Oregon Track Club Elite and training with the likes of British Olympian Jemma Simpson and US Olympic steeplechaser Bridget Franek. Training under the guidance of Coach Mark Rowland, who himself won a bronze in the steeplechase in Seoul, Praught has had to earn her way to the professional contract.
"It's a long process and you never really know where you stand," Praught said. "I raced in Europe because I felt like I had to prove myself, but you just don't know. Things were going to take a long time because it was an Olympic year."
There was a huge gamble for Praught, too. In September, she moved to Oregon without a contract and just had to trust that her agent would get her a deal and things would work out.
Wednesday, they did and in between breakfast and an appointment with her chiropractor, Praught signed on the dotted line.
"The shoe companies have a lot of candidates to choose from," Praught said. "They decide who they want to invest in and you have to be patient.
"They believe that I can perform in the future, and it's one of the best feelings that there are people who believe I can do good things."
All along the way, people have believed. From her parents, Molly and Jerome, to Tauwon and Tony Taylor at Moline High School who nurtured her talent while increasing her love of running.
"They were the foundation to get me where I am," Praught said. "It makes everything that much better when I have the people around me who were there from the get-go."
After failing to make the Olympic Team for London, Praught traveled to Belgium for three races and then Dublin, Ireland for another. This year, the focus will be on the US National Championships with a chance to make the team for the World Championships on the line. The US Nationals will be in Des Moines, and you can guarantee there will be a big Praught cheering section.
Today is Saturday, April 19, the 109th day of 2014. There are 256 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: Miss McCorkindale has opened millinery rooms over Gimbel's dry goods store, where she offers a choice lot of millinery goods, which she will manufacture to order. 1889 -- 125 years ago: The little South Park Presbyterian chapel celebrated it first Easter decorated with flowers for an afternoon worship service attended by a large congregation. 1914 -- 100 years ago: The Wennerberg Chorus of Augustana College has returned from a 2,000-mile tour in the Eastern states and Illinois. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Col. Charles Lindbergh has stated that he is convinced that Germany's air force is equal to the combined sky fleets of her potential European foes. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Small gas motors may be permitted on boats in the lake to be built in Loud Thunder Forest Preserve. The prospect was discussed yesterday at a meeting of the Rock Island County Forest Preserve Commission. 1989 -- 25 years ago: The annual Dispatch/Rock Island Argus Spelling Bee continues to be a family tradition. Ed Lee, an eighth-grader at John Deere Junior High School, Moline, is the 1989 spelling bee champion from among 49 top spellers in Rock Island, Henry and Mercer counties. He advances to the competition in Washington, D.C. Runnerup was Ed's sister, Susan.