Miller-Uibo secures 400m gold; moving away from that event to focus on 200m and multi events
Shaunae Miller-Uibo is truly in a class by herself.
She made history on Friday, becoming just the second woman, and second athlete ever, to win all the global titles in an individual event in athletics, joining former great Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva in accomplishing that feat. They have both captured world youth, world junior, world indoor, world outdoor and Olympic titles, in the same event.
Miller-Uibo, 28, is now also just the second athlete worldwide to win the world youth, world junior and world outdoor titles, leading off with the world junior title. She joins Jamaican legendary athlete Usain Bolt in accomplishing that feat.
Prior to this past weekend, the world outdoor title was the only one missing from Miller-Uibo’s résumé, and she took care of that with one gallop around the track at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, USA, as the 18th World Athletics Championships continued.
Sporting the long green hair on Friday, Miller-Uibo ran a world-leading time of 49.11 seconds to win the world title in the women’s 400 meters (m), leaving no doubt as to who is the absolute best female quarter-miler in the world. Marileidy Paulino, of the Dominican Republic, took the silver medal in 49.60 seconds. It was her second straight global silver behind Miller-Uibo as she also settled for second at the Tokyo Olympics last year. Sada Williams, of Barbados, was the first woman from her country to advance to the women’s 400m final and held on for the bronze, finishing in a national record time of 49.75 seconds. It was the Caribbean’s first ever sweep of the medals in that event, and also the first world championships win for Caribbean women in that event since Tonique Williams-Darling, another Bahamian, accomplished the feat in Helsinki, Finland, in 2005. Remarkably, six of the eight women in that 400m final on Friday were from the Caribbean, and there was no American woman in the final for the first time since 2003.
“I feel like I waited too long for it, but I just give God all the thanks and praise,” said Miller-Uibo to reporters afterward. “It’s been a long time coming. The main thing for us this season was to make sure secure the gold medal and I’m just happy that I was able to do that and I’m proud of myself right now. The time really didn’t matter to me – it was all about just securing the gold medal. That’s the one thing that has been missing. I ran a very tactical race and I was able to get the gold. It’s an overjoyed feeling – just to come out here and be able to perform and get the gold. I’m glad that I was able to come out and finish strong, and to grab the gold medal is a true blessing.”
Sadly, it’s shaping up to be her last global title in that event. The Bahamian superstar track and field athlete said she is content to move away from the 400m after this season to focus her attention on the 200m and to also compete in a few heptathlon events. In essence, she will not attempt to become the first woman to win three consecutive Olympic titles in an individual running event.
“I’m putting it to rest. I’ve accomplished it all in the event,” said Miller-Uibo to reporters about her journey in the 400m. “Perfect way (to go out). I’ve checked all the boxes. This is the last one to check off (in the 400) and I did. I’m very proud of myself. The 200 is my first love and the plan is to train for that and to also dabble into the multi a bit. This is my last year running the 400, so we wanted to make sure focus on it and bring home the gold medal. Now, we could properly train for the 200. It’s my original sweetheart, so I definitely want to get back into it. I put down a 21.7 without really training for it, so once I properly go after it, I believe that I could put down some great times.”
For now, she is content to bask in the glory of finally being world outdoor champion.
Miller-Uibo got out to her usual fast start on Friday, was smooth on the backstretch, taking command of the race, and was the clear leader at the 200m mark. The upstart Sada Williams, of Barbados, appeared to be stride for stride with Miller-Uibo as they came into the home stretch, but as the two-time Olympic Champion opened up, she pulled away from Williams and the rest of the track to win comfortably. Miller-Uibo said afterward that when she saw she was in first place coming off the bend, she knew that it was going to be hard for the rest of the track to catch up with her. Paulino passed Williams on the home stretch and took the silver medal, and Williams held on the for bronze.
Prime Minister Philip Davis congratulated Miller-Uibo on her victory.
“I join Bahamians everywhere in congratulating Miller-Uibo on winning the gold medal in the open 400 meters at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, on Friday,” said the prime minister. “Mrs. Miller-Uibo is the most accomplished female quarter miler in athletic history and, yes, she is a Bahamian – she is one of us. The source of national pride and inspiration Shaunae has become over a relatively short period, not only to a generation of Bahamian youth and athletes, but to all Bahamians both at home and abroad, cannot be overstated. I am personally inspired, and my government’s resolve strengthened to ensure that sports tourism as an integral component of the orange economy becomes a significant pillar of the national economy. We owe this to our youth, the cultural community and our athletes.”
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Mario Bowleg also had congratulatory remarks for Miller-Uibo.
“It was the one title missing from Miller-Uibo’s résumé. The talented Bahamian quarter-miler cruised to her first World Outdoor Championships title running 49.11 seconds out of lane three. She was in a class of her own,” he said. “I am honored to have witnessed such a historical feat in person and congratulated Miller-Uibo on her major accomplishment. She is indeed a stellar athlete and a great ambassador for our country. The Bahamas is indebted to Miller-Uibo.”
If it is Miller-Uibo’s last competitive race in the women’s 400m, she leaves a tremendous legacy in that event alone with a national and area record of 48.36 seconds, two Olympic titles and a Diamond League title to go along with her four world titles – youth, junior, indoor and now outdoor. Miller-Uibo was the world leader in the women’s 400m for three straight years from 2016-2018, and again in 2021 and 2022. She is the sixth-fastest woman in history in the women’s 400m.
Miller-Uibo is no stranger to running the 200m though. She won three straight Diamond League titles in that event and also has a world outdoor bronze. She was the world leader on two occasions in the women’s 200m. However, Shericka Jackson, of Jamaica, just ran the second-fastest time ever on her way to gold in the women’s 200m on Thursday night.
“They’re setting the stage pretty high,” Miller-Uibo said to reporters. “I’m so proud of the girls and I think that they’re really showing out right now and showing the world exactly what we can do. I can’t wait.”
There will be another world outdoor championships in 2023 and it will be interesting to see what Miller-Uibo focuses on. The 19th World Athletics Championships takes place from August 18-27, in Budapest, Hungary.
With Miller-Uibo’s gold, The Bahamas has won at least one medal at four straight world outdoor championships, and has won 26 medals in the history of the championships – nine gold, nine silver and eight bronze.