The name, Leah Nugent, came as a surprise to many when she was announced for heat 1 of the women’s 400m hurdles event at the Supreme Ventures Jamaica Championships at the National Stadium on the weekend (June 30 to July 3).
Nugent made light work of her first run by crossing the line, unchallenged in 55.52, a then personal best.
Still, track and field fans are still trying to find out, who is Leah Nugent.
She was born in Pennsylvania, USA with strong heritage ties to Jamaica. Her father was born in Jamaica as well as her paternal grandparents.
Nugent moved on to finish second in the final, her time 55.44secs, a personal best effort behind Ristananna Tracey.
When asked how she felt about making a Jamaica Olympic team, she stated: “It feels really good. My dad is from Kingston, his whole family was here, they moved to the States, so this is where my blood is and it just feels great to make my family proud.”
The 23-year-old athlete who will be representing Jamaica in next month’s Olympic Games in Rio, will have a lot to work on.
“Absolutely with so many mistakes I will have a lot to improve on,” added the athlete with a 24.03 personal best.
Nugent plans to just work on her execution going into the Olympics, as she is yet to run a perfect race for the season, though consecutively creating personal best times.
“From here on, I think its just execution, I mean I have yet to run a perfect race this season, but I have continued to PR with so many mistakes so its just really sticking to my pattern and I’m blessed to even run that fast with so many mistakes.”
The University of Kentucky graduate, who is currently training there under the management of coach Edrick Floreal, is also a volunteer Coach at her Alma Mater.
The decision of representing Jamaica wasn’t a hard one as she clearly noted that she had always wanted to be an Olympian.
“It’s always been my heart to represent Jamaica, cause my dad is from here.”
My grandfather who I was very close with before he passed, my grandmother, my cousins, my uncles, it’s just a blessing to be able to have two decisions and I’m happy I chose Jamaica”
The NCAA Bronze medalist in 2015 for the 400m hurdles, said she “always wanted to be an Olympian.”