The country’s two most premier athletes in track and field will open up their Diamond League seasons this Friday in Fontvieille, Monaco, and they got the perfect tune-up at the Hungarian Athletics Grand Prix Meet on Tuesday.
Both Steven Gardiner and Shaunae Miller-Uibo won their respective events quite easily at the Bregyó közi Regionális Atlétika Központ in Székesfehérvár, Hungary, on Tuesday. The meet, the Istvan Gyulai Memorial, catered to some of the top athletes in the world and serves as an annual competitive forum for athletes looking to see where they’re at ahead of major international meets.
Miller-Uibo won the women’s 200 meters (m) in a meet record of 22.18 seconds, and Gardiner prevailed in the men’s 400m in a season’s best time of 44.45 seconds.
Miller-Uibo has competed in Hungary in each of the last three years. Last year she blazed to victory in the women’s 400m in a meet record – one of the best times in the world in 2018. She is now the meet record holder in both the 200 and 400m at the Istvan Gyulai Memorial.
On Tuesday, sporting silver hair and donning her sponsor, Adidas apparel, Miller-Uibo was in fine form again. Running out of lane seven, she quickly made up the stagger on American Gabrielle Thomas out in lane eight. She came off the bend in good position, and powered home for the comfortable win, creating more and more separation with each stride. Miller-Uibo eased up at the tape and still won comfortable in 22.18 seconds. It was her first 200m race of the season, and she will run that event again in Monaco this Friday.
Marie-Josée Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast finished second in a season’s best time of 22.76 seconds, and American Jenna Prandini settled for third in 22.88 seconds.
Miller-Uibo is yet to announce whether she will contest the 200 or 400m at the Doha World Championships, but based on the volume of her workload and her priority over the years, it appears that she might favor the longer race. The schedule at the worlds won’t allow for her to do both.
Meanwhile, Gardiner was burning up the track in the men’s 400m. Proving that he is indeed back from a strained Achilles tendon that kept him out of the world relays, Gardiner circled the track in a season’s best time in the Hungarian city. He is now the fifth-fastest quarter-miler in the world this year, trailing a quartet of Americans – world leader Michael Norman (43.45), Kahmari Montgomery (44.23), Stewart Trevor (44.25) and 400m hurdler Rai Benjamin, formerly of Antigua & Barbuda (44.31).
Running out of the center of the track in lane four on Tuesday, Gardiner got out to a moderate start but started to pick up the pace on the back stretch. The Bahamian double national record holder made a strong move on the back curve and glided into the home stretch in full command of the race. As he powered home, the only question that remained was how much of a margin would he win by.
Coming into the tape, Gardiner was at least 10 meters in front of his nearest competitor. He ran through the tape and won in impressive fashion. Americans Tyrell Richard and Vernon Norwood finished second and third respectively. Richard was a distant second in 45.59 seconds, and Norwood crossed the finish line in 45.62 seconds.
Gardiner will also run the men’s 400m at the Monaco Diamond League meet this Friday. Donald Thomas also competed for The Bahamas in Hungary on Tuesday, but failed to record a mark in the men’s high jump. He has a subpar season’s best height of 2.15m (7’ 0-1/2”) outdoors, and a modest season’s best of 2.27m (7’ 5-1/4”) indoors.
Be that as it may, both Miller-Uibo and Gardiner appear to be progressing.
Unlike Miller-Uibo, Gardiner can double up at the Doha World Championships if he wants to, as the schedule appears to be in his favor.
The 17th International Association of Athletic Federations’ (IAAF) World Championships is set for September 27 to October 6, at the renovated multi-purpose Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
This Friday in Monaco, both Miller-Uibo and Gardiner will be up against world-class fields.
Miller-Uibo will be challenged by Ta Lou and Prandini again, as well as Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria who has been in fine form this year, two-time World Champion Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands and double Olympic Champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica, just to name a few.
Last year in Monaco, Miller-Uibo blazed to a world-leading, Diamond League and national record in the women’s 400m, 48.97 seconds, making her the 10th fastest of all time.
Gardiner will have his hands full in the men’s 400m this Friday. He will be up against the number two quarter-miler in the world this year, Montgomery of the United States, as well as a number of other quarter-milers who have run under 45 seconds this year. All of the athletes in the field have gone under 45 seconds at some point in their careers.
Also competing for The Bahamas in Monaco this Friday will be Latario Collie-Minns, making his Diamond League debut. He too will be up against a world-class field including three of the top five triple jumpers of all time – Americans Christian Taylor and Will Claye, and Pedro Pichardo, of Cuba but now competing for Portugal.
Taylor, a three-time World and two-time Olympic Games Champion, is the number two triple jumper of all time at 18.21m (59’ 9”); Claye, a World silver medalist and two-time Olympic Games silver medalist, is the number three triple jumper of all time at 18.14m (59’ 6-1/4”), done this year; and Pichardo, a two-time World silver medalist, is the number five triple jumper of all time at 18.08m (59’ 4”).