TOKYO, Japan – Less than a week before the start of the athletics portion of the Tokyo Olympic Games, the jury is still out on whether or not Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo will run just the 200 meters (m), defend her Olympic title in the 400m, or contest both.
She is entered for both events at the Olympics here in Tokyo, Japan, but a final decision of what event she will run, or whether or not she will contest both, likely won’t come until the scratch meeting this week. The same is the case for Bahamian World Champion in the men’s 400m Steven Gardiner.
As for Miller-Uibo, she has said all season long that she would concentrate on the 200m, seeing that she already has an Olympic title in the longer race. The two events clash in the middle of the track portion of the games, with the heats of the women’s 400m and the final of the women’s 200m on the same day.
Miller-Uibo beckoned World Athletics (WA), with the assistance of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), for a schedule change for the past two seasons, looking for the events to be spaced out further to accommodate her in going after the double (running both events). It has been done for others, including Americans
Michael Johnson and Allyson Felix in the past.
When her latest request was denied, Miller-Uibo stated her intention of going after just the 200m title at the Olympics as opposed to defending her Olympic crown in the 400m.
“We’re just asking them to clear it up a little bit more for us, where we can focus on three (rounds in the 200m) and then focus on the other three (rounds in the 400m),” she said in an earlier interview. “I think it’s always been so simple for the 100m/200m runners. The 200m/400m, being a more complex double, I think we’re asking for a day, if they can at least do that for us.”
However, when the topic was revisited at the
Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations’ (BAAA) Junior and Senior National Track and Field Championships at the end of June in which she contested both events, Miller-Uibo simply said “we’ll see”, leaving the door open for a possible double run.
Up to yesterday, Bahamian track officials were mum as to what the final decision will be. The two events are separated by about 12 hours on Thursday August 3, with the heats of the women’s 400m in the morning and the final of the women’s 200m at night.
Miller-Uibo, 27, has been one of the world’s best sprinters in both events over the past five seasons. She had a 26-race unbeaten streak snapped at the Doha World Championships in 2019 and earlier this month, she had her 16-race unbeaten streak snapped in the women’s 200m – dating back to the 2017 world championships in London, England.
The 400m title is expected to be less challenging than the 200m at these Olympics, given the field of competitors who are registered for both events.
In the women’s 400m, World Champion Salwa Eid Naser, of Bahrain, has been banned for two years for a “whereabouts failures” violation and world leader Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi, both 18-year-olds of Namibia, must get their testosterone levels down to acceptable standards in order to be allowed to compete. They are first and third on the world’s top list for 2021 respectively, with Miller-Uibo splitting the duo.
In their absence from the Olympics, Miller-Uibo would be an overwhelming favorite for the gold medal in the women’s 400m, should she decide to contest that event.
The 200m is a more daunting task. The field is stacked.
Six women have run under 22 seconds in the women’s 200m this year and Miller-Uibo is not one of them.
Be that as it may, the Bahamian superstar track and field athlete is hungry for the Olympic title in that event. She has gone as fast as 21.74 seconds, done for the Diamond League title in Zürich, Switzerland, in 2019.
However, this season, American Gabrielle
Thomas has run 21.61 seconds, becoming the second-fastest of all-time over that distance behind the late Florence Griffith-Joyner. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the 12-time global champion from Jamaica, has run a personal best of 21.79 seconds this season, and her compatriot Shericka Jackson has found her form in that event this season, running a personal best of 21.82 seconds and ending Miller-Uibo’s four-year unbeaten streak in that event, in Székesfehérvár, Hungary, in early July.
Additionally, there are athletes such as Dina Asher-Smith, of Great Britain, Marie Josée Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast, Elaine Thompson-Herah, of Jamaica, and Americans Jenna Prandina and Anavia Battle who figure to fit prominently into the mix for Olympic glory as well.
“The girls out there are running great times at the minute but there is nothing I love more than great competition,” said Miller-Uibo in an earlier interview as it relates to the women’s 200m. “The current level we see out there is very motivating and I am very happy to see women on top of the sport now and making the headlines.”
The opening round heats of the women’s 200m is set for the morning session of Monday August 2 at the Japan National Stadium in Tokyo, and the heats of the women’s 400m is the following day.
It will be interesting to see what Miller-Uibo’s final decision will be.