At 24 years old, Shaunae Miller-Uibo is on top of the world in the female sprints!
The Bahamian track sensation climaxed an undefeated season on Sunday, winning gold in both the women’s 200 meters (m) and mixed 4x400m relay for the Americas team at the IAAF Continental Cup Ostrava 2018, in Ostrava, Czech Republic. On Saturday, she was a part of the winning women’s 4x100m relay team, and her triple gold performance helped the Americas squad win the overall title at the quadrennial meet.
The Americas won 18 of the 37 gold medals, and carted off the overall trophy at the year-ending extravaganza of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) with 262 points. Defending champions Europe finished second with 233 points, and Asia-Pacific finished third with 188 points. Africa ended up fourth with 142 points.
As for Miller-Uibo, in her only individual event, she came from behind in classic Miller-Uibo fashion in the women’s 200m. She won in 22.16 seconds. Representing Team Europe, Dafne Schippers, of the Netherlands, finished second in 22.28 seconds. Marie-Josée Ta Lou, of the Ivory Coast and representing Team Africa, finished third in 22.61 seconds.
In the mixed 4x400m relay, Miller-Uibo closed out the meet by anchoring the Americas team to gold. The quartet of three-time World Champion and two-time Olympic Champion in the men’s triple jump Christian Taylor, from the United States; Luguelín Santos, from the Dominican Republic; Stephenie Ann McPherson, from Jamaica; and Miller-Uibo, in that order, ran 3:13.01 for the gold. Team Africa won the silver in 3:16.19, and Asia-Pacific came out with the bronze in 3:18.55. Team Europe was disqualified after running in close proximity with Team Americas after the first two legs. Their third leg runner Lisanne de Witte, of the Netherlands, dropped the baton in trying to switch it from one hand to the other and they fell out of contention.
On Saturday, Miller-Uibo ran the second leg for Team Americas in their winning run in the women’s 4x100m relay. The Americas team of Ángela Tenorio, of Colombia; Miller-Uibo; Jenna Prandini, of the United States; and Vitoria Cristina Rosa, of Brazil, in that order, crossed the finish line in 42.11 seconds for the win. Team Europe was second in 42.55 seconds, and Asia-Pacific finished third in a personal best time of 42.93 seconds.
Miller-Uibo wasn’t the only Bahamian on Team Americas tasting victory over the weekend though.
After a fifth-place finish at the IAAF Diamond League Final in Brussels, Belgium, last week, Donald Thomas bounced back for gold in the men’s high jump.
Thomas won with a clearance of 2.30m (7’ 6-1/2”), beating last week’s winner at the Diamond League Finals, Brandon Starc of Australia, in the process. Representing Asia-Pacific, Starc also cleared 2.30m but had to settle for second based on number of knockdowns. Both cleared 2.30m on their third attempts, but Starc had a knockdown at 2.27m (7’ 5-1/4”) while Thomas was clean up until 2.30. Maksim Nedasekau, of Belarus and representing Team Europe, won the bronze medal, clearing 2.27m.
Miller-Uibo was simply fantastic, as she’s been all year, and is now set to return home where there is a grand celebration planned in her honor. Operation Sovereign Bahamas Shaunae Miller-Uibo Foundation in conjunction with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture will honor Miller-Uibo this coming Saturday at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. The event, dubbed ‘The Making of a Diamond Queen’, is set for 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the national stadium.
Miller-Uibo finished her 2018 season with an unblemished 18-0 win-loss record in all of her events, including heats, semifinals and finals, relays and a couple of unconventional events for her. She completed one of the all-time great years, if not the greatest year, by a Bahamian track and field athlete ever.
Miller-Uibo won all nine of her 200m races, tied Irina Privalova’s world record in the 300m indoors and blazed to a new world record in the 150m straight at the Adidas Boost Boston Games. She also won all three of her 400m races, one in a blazing world-leading time of 48.97 seconds; won the shot put and high jump events at the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) National Open Championships with personal best marks, and climaxed her year by being a part of both gold medal winning squads at the IAAF Continental Cup, and winning the women’s 200m.
The Bahamian golden goddess was literally in a class by herself all year. She is now a three-time winner at the IAAF Diamond League Finals, winning both the 200 and 400m last year and repeating as champion in the 200m this year.
American Carmelita Jeter and Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce are the only other athletes to ever win three Diamond League titles over a two-year span. Miller-Uibo could have become the only athlete to ever win two individual titles in successive years, but with both the women’s 200 and 400m being held on the same day, and just an hour and 50 minutes apart, a decision was made to go with the shorter race. The women’s 400m was easily won by Salwa Eid Naser, of Bahrain, finishing in 49.33 seconds.
Naser won every Diamond League 400m race this season that Miller-Uibo didn’t. However, in her one encounter with Miller-Uibo, she came up short. Miller-Uibo won in Fontvieille, Monaco, in a meet record, national record, personal best and world-leading time, and Naser had to settle for second, finishing in an area record and personal best time.
Miller-Uibo’s last defeat was at the 2017 London World Championships. She stumbled in the women’s 400m and faded to fourth, and finished third in the 200m, falling to Schippers and Ta Lou. Schippers won her second straight world title in London, Ta Lou was second and Miller-Uibo won the bronze. Miller-Uibo repaid both less than a month later, taking her first of two Diamond League titles, at the Weltklasse Zürich, in Zürich, Switzerland. She won the women’s 200m in a lifetime best of 21.88 seconds at that meet.
This season, Miller-Uibo became just the 10th woman to ever run under 49 seconds in the 400m, the first to do so in nine years, and just the fourth woman ever to have lifetime bests of under 22 seconds in the women’s 200m and under 49 seconds in the women’s 400m.
Just a world title eludes her, and Miller-Uibo will go after that at next year’s world championships in Doha, Qatar.
Education: College of The Bahamas, Associates in Accounting