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Miller-Uibo, Gardiner fall short of AOY nominations

Sheldon Longley

 Shaunae Miller-Uibo (right) and Steven Gardiner. FILE

Bahamian track superstars Shaunae Miller-Uibo and Steven Gardiner, who were in the running for the World Athletes of the Year (AOY) awards, over the past two years, were both left off this year’s list of nominees, despite being among the world’s best in their respective disciplines.

It’s 2020. What else is new?

Miller-Uibo, who had a 26-race unbeaten streak snapped at the Doha World Championships last year, was one of five finalists for the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF), now World Athletics, (WA) Female Athlete of the Year for 2018. She fell short despite being completely dominant in all of her events that year, losing to Colombia’s Caterine Ibargüen.

Gardiner was a finalist for the World Athletics Male Athlete of the Year in 2019, but like Miller-Uibo the year before, he, too, fell short.

This year, COVID-19 has had a devastating effect, shutting down sports worldwide for an extended period of time. Still, a number of athletes were able to experience action in a shortened season. The Wanda Diamond League schedule was trimmed down, the few tour and private meets that did take place were held under strict COVID-19 guidelines and procedures and just a handful of national championships were realized.

Miller-Uibo, 26, was back to form, blazing to victory in a number of her events in the early part of the season before experiencing slight discomfort coming down to the end of the season. She took a precautionary measure and shut it down after not finishing a race in the women’s 200 meters (m) at the Drake Blue Oval Showcase, at Drake Stadium, in Des Moines, Iowa, at the end of August.

Miller-Uibo was still able to turn in season best times of 10.98 seconds in the 100m, 21.98 seconds in the 200m and 50.52 seconds in the 400m. The former is a personal best time. It made her the sixth Bahamian female to ever run under 11 seconds in the 100m and just the fourth woman in history to ever run under 11 seconds in the 100m, under 22 seconds in the 200m and under 49 seconds in the 400m. She joins German world record holder in the women’s 400m Marita Koch, as well as one of her idols, Marie-José Perec of France, and American Valerie Brisco-Hooks, making Miller-Uibo one of the more versatile female sprinters in world history.

The 200m time was a world lead and the modest 400m time came in her only race of the season in that event. She cruised around the track and won comfortably in 50.52 seconds at the Showdown in Otown Meet at the Montverde Academy, in Montverde, Florida – about a half-hour drive from her training base in Clermont, Florida. She also won the 200m at that meet, finishing in 22.61 seconds.

Miller-Uibo started off the season with that double victory in Montverde, and from there, went on to win a couple more events before suffering slight discomfort in her leg and consequently deciding to shut down her season.

World Champion Gardiner, 25, took part in limited events but was unbeaten in the 100, 200 and 300m events. He recorded season best times of 10.35 seconds in the 100m, 19.96 seconds in the 200m and 31.83 seconds in the 300m. The former was a personal best time for him in the century. The 200m time has him listed as the third fastest in the world for 2020, trailing only World Champion Noah Lyles and fellow American Kenny Bednarek. He ended the year as the world leader in the 300m by a wide margin, setting a new national record on the 4th of July weekend at the V12 Summer Games in Alachua, Florida.

As a result of the widespread nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of regional and international meets were postponed or canceled.

The World Athletics Awards 2020 will be an online affair, held virtually on Saturday, December 5. It is anticipated to recognize exceptional achievement in what has been an extraordinary and unprecedented year, both on and off the fields of play, and celebrate the athletes who met the challenges of 2020, to produce top level performances.

In addition to the athletes of the year awards, the President’s Award, the Coaching Achievement Award, the COVID Inspiration Award, the Member Federations Award, the Athletes Community Award and the Photograph of the Year Award will all be presented.

There are 10 nominees for the Female World Athlete of the Year Award, which will be shortlisted to five finalists at the close of voting at midnight on Sunday, November 15. The winner will be announced on December 5.

The nominees were selected by an international panel of athletics experts, comprising representatives from all six continental areas of World Athletics, and the nominations reflect a range of exceptional performances that the sport witnessed this year, despite the challenges that COVID-19 presented.

Among the nominees are Femke Bol of the Netherlands, who was undefeated in six 400m hurdles races and ran a world-leading time of 53.79 seconds; her countrywoman Sifan Hassan, who set a world record of 18,930m in a one-hour run, and a European record of 29:36.67 over 10,000m (fourth fastest in history); Letesenbet Gidey, of Ethiopia, who set a world record of 14:06.62 over 5,000m; Ababel Yeshaneh, also of Ethiopia, who broke the world record in the half marathon with a time of 1:04:31; Laura Muir, of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, who was undefeated in three 1500m races and ran a world-leading time of 3:57.40 over 1500m; Yulimar Rojas, of Venezuela, who was undefeated in four triple jump competitions, indoors and outdoors, and broke the world indoor triple jump record with a jump of 15.43m (50’ 7-1/2”); Elaine Thompson-Herah, of Jamaica, who was undefeated in seven 100m races and ran a world-leading 10.85 seconds over 100m; and three Kenyans including Peres Jepchirchir, who won the world half marathon title and twice broke the world half marathon record for a women-only race (1:05:34 and 1:05:16); Faith Kipyegon who was undefeated in five races over all distances and ran world-leading times over 800m (1:57.68) and 1,000m (2:29.15); and Hellen Obiri, who was undefeated in three races over 3,000m and 5,000m and ran a world-leading 8:22.54 over 3,000m.

For the men, there are Karsten Warholm, of Norway, who was undefeated in nine 400m/400m hurdles races, set a world best of 33.78 seconds in the 300m hurdles and also ran a world-leading 46.87 in the 400m hurdles (second fastest in history); Mondo Duplantis, of Sweden, who broke the world record in the pole vault twice (6.17m – 20’ 3” and 6.18m – 20’ 3-1/4”) and produced the highest outdoor vault of all-time (6.15m – 20’ 2-1/4”) and was undefeated in 16 competitions; his countryman Daniel Stahl, who won 17 of his 19 discus competitions and threw a world-leading 71.37m (234’ 2”); Johannes Vetter, of Germany, who won eight of his nine javelin competitions and threw a world-leading 97.76m (320’ 9”) – the second farthest throw in history; Jacob Kiplimo, of Uganda, who won the world half marathon title in a championship record of 58:49 and ran a world-leading 7:26.64 over 3,000m – the fastest time in the world since 2007; his countryman Joshua Cheptegei, who broke world records in the 5,000m (12:35.36), 10,000m (26:11.00) and five-kilometer run on the road (12:51); Timothy Cheruiyot, of Kenya, who ran a world-leading 3:28.45 over 1,500m and was undefeated in three 1,500m races; and three Americans including Donavan Brazier, who ran world-leading 800m times indoors (1:44.22, North American indoor record) and outdoors (1:43.15) and won all seven of his races over all distances; Ryan Crouser, who was undefeated in 10 shot put competitions and had a 22.91m (75’ 2”) world-leading performance, which moved him up to equal third place on the all-time list; and Noah Lyles, who was undefeated in five finals and ran a world-leading time of 19.76 seconds over 200m.

A three-way voting process will determine the finalists. The World Athletics Council and the World Athletics Family will cast their votes by e-mail, while fans can vote online via World Athletics’ social media platforms. Individual graphics for each nominee will be posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; a “like” on Facebook and Instagram or a retweet on Twitter will count as one vote.

The World Athletics Council’s vote will count for 50 percent of the result, while the World Athletics Family’s votes and the public votes will each count for 25 percent of the final result.

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