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Sensational Shaunae Miller-Uibo poised for historic 400m assault

Bahamian Olympic sprint queen, the streamlined, but powerful finisher Shaunae Miller-Uibo, almost cracked the 49 seconds barrier on Saturday at the Tom Jones Memorial Classic in Gainesville, Florida, USA.

Miller-Uibo blazed to a season opener clocking of 49.05 seconds. There was absolutely no pressure on the 6’1” sprint stylist who only needed a comfortable stride to cross the finish line, far ahead of the field. The performance was incredible, and for the first time, my personal view is that someone has arrived to seriously challenge what was once thought of as a record that would last for at least a half of a century.

Reference is to the 47.60 seconds, posted by Marita Koch, of the former East Germany, way back in 1985, on October 6. That’s over 33 years ago. Along the way sprint giants from various nations had their sights on Koch’s lofty record. In particular, there was Jarmila Kratochvílová of Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic) who had the previous record of 47.99 seconds and remains to this day one of just two women ever to break 48 seconds in the open 400 meters (m). She, thus remained a threat to near the end of her career.

Then, names such as the great French Lady Marie-Jose Perec (best of 48.25); Australia’s Cathy Freeman (48.63); American Sanya Richards-Ross (48.70); Mexico’s Ana Guevara (48.89) followed on stream, and none posed much of a treat to the remarkable 47.60.

Last year, Miller-Uibo sparked some interest in the all-time record of Koch, when she zipped under 49 seconds, with a time of 48.97, done in Monaco on July 20. Her Monaco effort erased Tonique Williams’ 49.07 Bahamian national record that had stood since 2004. Incidentally, Mller-Uibo currently sits as the No. 10 fastest 400m runner ever, Williams is at No.12, and fellow Bahamian Pauline Davis-Thompson is tied for 20th with Russia’s Yuliya Gushchina at 49.28.

It figures that if pressed on Saturday past, Miller-Uibo, given the circumstances, could have gone a full second under her finishing time. That’s 48.05!

I’m not sensationalizing. Her drive phase when she came off the final bend, if she was under pressure, could have reached an acceleration point that would have taken her through the finish well under 49 seconds.

At the very least, skeptics of what I present here, would have to acknowledge that she easily could have clocked in the mid 48s, less than a second off the world record of 47.60. This means, without a doubt, low 48s are now achievable by Miller-Uibo. If so, then Miller-Uibo assailing the mark of Koch, is now possible.

I’m not ready just yet, to say that breaking the world record is probable, which would mean it’s just a matter of time. It’s certainly a possibility for Miller-Uibo, though. The challenge is a great one indeed, but until now, no other has been positioned, realistically, to break Koch’s record.

Let’s see what happens with the lady whose birthday is the same date as my own.

Go Shaunae!

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at e-mail address or on WhatsApp at (242) 727-6363.

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