The Nassau Guardian’s: Senior Female Athlete of the Year
Shaunae Miller had one of the all-time great years by a Bahamian athlete, so it really was a no-brainer that she was chosen as The Nassau Guardian’s Senior Female Athlete of the Year for 2016.
Miller was a unanimous selection, winning with 30 points, and rightly so after experiencing tremendous success in female sprinting in the country. Miller was the only Bahamian athlete to qualify for three individual events at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. She took part in just one in Rio de Janeiro, but won the country’s only gold medal this year, but sixth gold in the history of the Olympics for The Bahamas.
Miller was simply sensational, running a personal best world-leading time of 49.44 seconds to win the Olympic gold. In a monumental fall/dive that was seen all over the world, Miller edged American superstar Allyson Felix for the gold, turning the tables on Felix who took the world title in Beijing, China, last year. Felix was second in Rio de Janeiro in 49.51 seconds.
Miller was unbeaten for most of the year in the 400m, losing just one race which came in the semis in Rio de Janeiro. She trailed Felix to the tape in the third of three semi-finals, 49.67 to 49.91, but she came back in the final to topple the American track legend. Miller is the third fastest Bahamian of all-time in the women’s 400m, trailing just national record holder Tonique Williams (49.07) and Pauline Davis-Thompson (49.28). Williams won Olympic gold in the women’s 400m in 2004 in Athens, Greece; and Davis-Thompson took the Olympic title in the women’s 200m in 2000 in Sydney, Australia.
As for Miller, she experienced success in the women’s 200m this year as well, and showed her tremendous versatility by qualifying for the Olympics in the 100m also. She posted qualifying times of 11.19 seconds and 22.05 seconds in those events respectively, the former being a personal best and the latter being a new national record.
It’s safe to say that the 22-year-old Bahamian track star experienced the best year of her athletic career in 2016. She ran personal best times in all three of the sprints – 100, 200 and 400m; was right in the money for the Diamond League title until pulling out of the finale in Brussels, Belgium; and struck Olympic gold for The Bahamas in Rio de Janeiro.
Miller is on pace to become just the 13th woman in the history of athletics to ever run under 50 seconds in the 400m and under 22 seconds in the 200m. She is just five one hundredths of a second in the women’s 200m from accomplishing that. The International Association of Athletic Federations’ (IAAF) World Championships is set for London, England, in 2017, and whereas she has not announced her intention as yet as to what event she will run, Miller could become the seventh athlete in the history of athletics to win individual gold in the same event at the world youth, world junior and senior world level. If she accomplishes that, she will be just the second behind Jamaican Usain Bolt to do it starting with the world junior title.
The 16th IAAF World Championships is set for August 4-13, in London, England.
Another track and field athlete, hurdler Pedrya Seymour, finished second in the voting process with 26 points, just edging professional basketball player Jonquel Jones who was third with 25 points.
What a phenomenal year Seymour had!
She set a national record in the women’s 100m hurdles four times this year, culminated with a blazing 12.64 run in the semi-finals at the Olympics to reach the final. In the Olympic final, she stumbled over the final hurdle and settled for sixth place in 12.76 seconds. She has certainly made a name for herself in the short hurdles though. Seymour just started running the women’s 100m hurdles competitively this year, and just took off. Even after coming into the Olympics with a sub-13 seconds qualifying time (12.86), she wasn’t expected to compete for a spot in the finals. A semi-final spot was considered likely, but few had her advancing to the final. Her sixth place finish in the final was the highest finish ever by a Bahamian in any hurdles event at the Olympics.
Jonquel Jones was taken with the sixth overall pick of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) Draft by the Los Angeles Sparks, and traded to the Connecticut Sun on draft night. She averaged 6.8 points and 3.7 points per game for the Sun in her rookie season. Jones was also taken fifth overall by the Woori Bank Wibee in the Women’s Korean Basketball League (WKBL), where she currently plays. She joined the Wibee at the conclusion of the WNBA season, and is currently a frontrunner for the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, averaging 15.8 points per game and 12.2 rebounds per game. Both are league highs.
Olympic swimmer Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace was fourth in the voting process with 20 points, and Olympic rower Emily Morley finished fifth with 18 points.
Senior Female Scores
1st – Shaunae Miller (Athletics) – 30 points
2nd – Pedrya Seymour (Athletics) – 26 points
3rd – Jonquel Jones (Basketball) – 25 points
4th – Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (Swimming) – 20 points
5th – Emily Morley (Rowing) – 18 points
6th – Lashann Higgs (Basketball) – 12 points
7th – Bianca Stuart (Athletics) – 7 points
7th – Dekel Nesbitt (Bodybuilding & Fitness) – 7 points
9th – Georgette Rolle (Golf) – 6 points
9th – Carmiesha Cox (Athletics) – 6 points
11th – Yolett McPhee-McCuin (Basketball) – 3 points
12th – Melinda Bastian (Volleyball) – 2 points
13th – Devynne Charlton (Athletics) – 1 point
13th – Larikah Russell (Softball) – 1 point
13th – Cynthia Rahming (Judo) – 1 point
Honorable mention: Kelsie Johnson (Volleyball), Shanea Armbrister (Basketball) and Taneka Sandiford (Golf).