Monday, September 4, 2017
By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
Despite what happened to her at the 16th IAAF World Championships in London, England, last month, Shaunae Miller-Uibo said she was able to live out her purpose by winning the back-to-back IAAF Diamond League Finals in the 200 and 400 metres over the last two weekends.
“It feels great. To God be the glory, great things he has done,” Miller-Uibo told The Tribune over the weekend following her latest achievement in Brussels. “I understand that it is a first for the Bahamas and I am truly happy to be a part of this history.”
Miller-Uibo, 23, was referring to the fact that she emerged as the first Bahamian to cash in on two year-ending finals, surpassing Tonique Williams, whom she joined (as the first to win a Golden League title as it was back then in 2004) when she captured the first title in a national record breaking performance in the women’s 200 metres at the Zurich Weltklasse two weeks ago.
On Friday, the six-foot-1 Miller-Uibo closed out her account for the year as she added the 400 metres crown with a world leading time of 49.46 at the Van Damme Memorial in Brussels, pushing her hefty payday to $100,000 - $50,000 each for the victories.
Despite the cold and wet conditions following torrential rains in Brussels, Miller-Uibo pulled away from the youthful Salwa Eid Naser, who also broke the 50-second barrier as she set a Bahrain record of 49.88 for second.
“The competition as always was very fierce and the joy of the challenge keeps it interesting,” said Miller-Uibo about facing three of the seven other finalists from London, including Naser, the silver medallist. “The weather was a little chilly and wet, but the response from my coach was that we executed the race model.”
That was the model she had expected in London, England, when she surged to the front only to miscalculate her step after taking a peep at the big screen and faltered to fourth in the 400m before she bounced back to take the bronze in the 200m. In the process, she earned $35,000, inclusive of $20,000 for the half-lap race and $15,000 for the one-lapper.
From what transpired, Miller-Uibo called it a valuable age-old lesson learnt.
“From since I was a child, I learned and understood that God’s timing will always be perfect,” she said. “And God blessed me with two Diamond League wins, a national record and a world-leading time to end the season. So I count my blessings and thank him for them.”
And putting her two showings in perspective after the Worlds, Miller-Uibo admitted that they were “equally satisfying because in the 200m, I got a national record and in a world-leading time in the 400m.”
With her season over and done with, Miller-Uibo is preparing to return home before next Friday for another Shaunae Miller-Uibo Day at her alma mater at St Augustine’s College. But she expressed her disappointment in hearing that there won’t be any official celebrations for her nor Steven Gardiner, the World Championship men’s 400m silver medallist.
“I am very disappointed that there is no celebrations, mainly for Stevie Gasdiner,” she said. “I feel extremely bad seeing that this is his first international medal and that being a silver, makes him the second best in the world.
“Instead of him being celebrated, from what I am understanding, he is being persecuted by his own federation. This is very disturbing. The silver lining to this story is that the rest of the world is celebrating Mr Gardiner’s success.”
Claude Bryan, the chief executive officer of On Track Management, Inc, the Atlanta, Georgia-based promotional track group that manages both Miller-Uibo and Gardiner, said they will not comment on the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations’ decision to hold a tribunal to ascertain why he didn’t run the heats of the men’s 4 x 400m relay in London on the request of head coach Dianne Woodside-Johnson.
He would only state that: “I am sure Moore’s Island and the rest of the Bahamas are appreciative of his efforts and if history is our guide, the Bahamas has not been shy in giving due to its athletes when they fly the black, aquamarine and yellow.”
Looking back at what the two Bahamian quarter-milers did this year, Bryan said it’s just the tip of the iceberg for Miller-Uibo and Gardiner.
“Shaunae is on an upward trajectory and what we witnessed this year is just the continuation of what should ultimately unfold as a stellar career,” said Bryan, the chief executive officer of On Track Management.
As for Gardiner, he completed his year by slipping out of the blocks in the men’s 400m in the Diamond League Final at the Zurich Weltklasse last week.
The race came after Gardiner picked up a silver medal in London, two days following his historic run in the semi-final where he became the first Bahamian to crack the 44-second barrier, lowering his national record to 43.89.
“Stevie is a gem and from coach (Anthony) Williams to coach (George) Cleare to coach (Gary) Evans, the mantra has always been ‘gently apply the polish,’” Bryan said.
“He will shine in due time. Coach Evans understands this and Stevie has been responding in line with expectations.”
Bryan said they will continue to “apply the polish” on Gardiner as they look ahead to the future for the soon-to-be 22-year-old (September 12) 6-2 native from Murphy Town, Abaco.