Miller advancing up 400m ladder
The 17-year-old Shaunae Miller is very quickly becoming a household name in this country. She is a CARIFTA standout, but Miller really exploded on the world scene last year when she won the 13th World Junior Championships 400 meters (m) gold medal in Moncton, Canada.
Last week, in Lille, France, she made another emphatic statement before a world audience with a sparkling run in the final of the 7th World Youth Championships’ 400m. She is certainly doing her part to lift the spirits of Bahamians across the length and breadth of this nation when our society is embattled with many negatives.
Yes, Bahamians are proud of this young lady. Personally, I’m delighted to share the same birthday with the gallant lass and also to have been a close friend of the Miller family for more than 40 years. The sky is the limit for this young awesome Bahamian talent.
She has a rich heritage. Uncles Leslie, Hardy, Cleveland, Rudolph, Don and Terry were outstanding sprinters, jumpers, middle-distance and distance runners. Her cousin Rochelle was perhaps the finest of the Millers in distance running. So, Shaunae definitely has the background.
A nation is behind her and hopefully she will be allowed to progress comfortably, under absolutely no undue physical or mental competitive pressure.
The road before her is a very challenging one indeed. The expectations are great. On the Bahamian female 400m ledger she has a good ways to go before she can be favorably compared with the top three. Already, she has eclipsed the junior legends Maryann Higgs and Oralee Fowler but Miller still has only a distant view of Tonique Williams-Darling, Pauline Davis-Thompson and Christie Amertil.
Williams-Darling is at the top of the ladder. She has been one of the great 400m sprinters, not simply as a Bahamian but in track and field world history. Her four-year run (2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006) resulted in a World Indoor bronze medal, an Olympic gold medal, an Outdoor Worlds gold medal, the Golden League Championship which earned her a $500,000 purse, and a Commonwealth Games silver medal.
Add to that, the national mark of 49.07 and because of Williams-Darling alone, Miller has quite a journey of accomplishments ahead of her. Davis-Thompson, the grand dame of Bahamian athletics, owned the national record of 49.28 before losing it to Williams-Darling.
Amertil’s personal best for the 400m is 50.09. Williams-Darling, Davis-Thompson and Amertil have been outstanding at the senior level. Miller is poised for that category and no doubt she intends to lower her personal best of 51.84 considerably between the Outdoor Worlds this August 27-September 4, in Daegu, South Korea and the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Her progression indicates a capability of getting into the 50 seconds area soon. It was just last year when she lowered the national junior mark of 52.50 held by Williams-Darling, to 52.45 in Moncton. Last week, she went under 52 seconds.
Best wishes to you Shaunae as the climb continues up the 400 meters ladder.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com)