Miller-Uibo looking for first world title

DOHA, Qatar – Although she’s run more 200 meters (m) races this season than the 400m, Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo said it was all in training for the longer race and she is looking forward to finally claiming a world title this year.

She will line up for the opening round heats of the women’s 400m inside the Khalifa International Stadium at the 17th International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) World Championships here in Doha, Qatar, today.

Temperatures in Doha have been in the nineties since the championships started and on Sunday, it reached 106 degrees, unbearable even for Bahamians who endure hot weather year-round. Miller-Uibo said that she is just taking it in stride and focussing on these championships one round at a time.

She goes into the women’s 400m as the world leader with her 49.05 clocking back in April.

“I’m in great shape and ready to have fun getting through the rounds. The weather here is humid but I’m looking past that and just ready to put on a great show,” she said. “It’s very humid out there but I heard there is a cooling system at the track stadium, so I’m looking forward to that. I’ll be testing it out tomorrow (today) and see how it goes from there.”

The heats of the women’s 400m are set for 6:20 p.m. today here in Doha, 11:20 a.m. back in The Bahamas. The semifinals are tomorrow and the final is set for Thursday.

Miller-Uibo is one of the most dominant female athletes in the world. She hasn’t lost a race in two years. This year in particular, she has focussed more on the 200m, winning her third straight Diamond League title in a new national record and Diamond League record earlier this month.

She said that if it came down to choosing between the 200 and 400m for these world championships, the longer race is always her choice.

“It was a no-brainer for me. The 400 is my favorite event and obviously I want this particular title more so than the 200 right now,” she said. “I would have loved to do both but the schedule didn’t permit it. The 400 is what I have been training for all year, and that is the title that I really want.”

The Bahamian Olympic champion continues to develop each year. She has lowered her personal best in the women’s 200m in four of the past five years, climaxed by that blazing 21.76 seconds run at the Diamond League Final in Zurich, Switzerland on September 11. The same could almost be said for the women’s 400m. It can be argued that just a lack of races prevented her from once again breaking the national record in that event this year.

“The main thing each year is just to continue to get better. I’ve been working on speed, strength and endurance,” she said. “ Overall, I’ve just been working a whole lot and overall I’m just a better athlete. I’m really excited and I’m looking forward to these world championships.”

Miller-Uibo has won at just about every level with the exception of the world championships. She is still looking for that first elusive world title. Her main competition this year is expected to come from Salwa Eid Naser, of Bahrain and Aminatou Seyni, of Niger. They’re listed second and third respectively on the IAAF’s top lists for 2019. Along with Jamaican Shericka Jackson, they’re the only athletes to run under 50 seconds this year.

Miller-Uibo said she is focussed on her race and what she needs to do. She’s looking forward to bring some glory to The Bahamas, particularly in the wake of the devastation and destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian at the beginning of the month.

“The Bahamian people need something to be happy about and hopefully I could help provide that. Hopefully, I could put on a good showing for them,” she said. “The whole Bahamas team is inspired and want to perform well. We want to give the Bahamian people something to be happy about and uplift their spirits. We’re going to do our best to make you guys proud. Our love goes out to the entire Bahamas, particularly Abaco and Grand Bahama,” she added.

Miller-Uibo was also favored for gold in the last world championships in London, England, but stumbled on a wet track about 50 meters from the finish line and was passed by three runners. She ended up fourth. The world championships before that, she won the silver medal behind Allyson Felix of the United States, and a year later, came back and won the Olympic title by beating Felix when she fell across the finish line in the last stages of the race.

Will the third time be the charm for Miller-Uibo in the women’s 400m? She believes it is, and will get started on that mission at the world championships today.

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Sheldon Longley

Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.

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