Her body betrayed her, but in the process of perhaps what might end up being her most disappointing career experience, Shaunae Miller-Uibo demonstrated that without question, she has the heart of a champion.
In the 16th International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) World Championships women’s 400 meters final on Wednesday, 50 meters from the finish as fate would have it, her smooth stride went out of sorts and Miller-Uibo dropped off the lead pace.
Three runners, (American Phyllis Francis who won in 49.92); Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Nasser 50.06); and (American Allyson Felix 50.08); moved past her, thus keeping the Bahamian off the medal podium for that race.
It was a most astonishing moment for a nation and many others watching around the world, particularly those in the London Stadium. For Bahamians and our Caribbean sisters and brothers, it was a deflating development.
Once I had exhaled though, I began to marvel at the stoutness of Miller-Uibo’s heart. In the past, I have seen, in similar situations, athletes just give up. Not so with Miller-Uibo. Although dealing with something alien, that she had never experienced in her life, there was the drive to try against the odds stacked against her at that moment in time, to bring The Bahamas a medal. She almost did it. She crossed the finish in fourth, behind Felix, in 50.49.
She has the heart of a champion indeed. There will be many more such opportunities for gold and the sprint queen will deliver. On Wednesday though, in defeat, she showed the world that there is a mighty ticker in her chest.
Let’s move on beyond that disappointment and take from it the strong message of persevering to the very end and never giving up. In an odd way, in reflection there was something to celebrate. At the moment, watching her, I thought and millions more, felt there was an injury of some kind.
Team Bahamas Head Coach Diane Woodside-Johnson explained:
“She’s not even exactly sure what happened. I think she just buckled a bit. She is physically okay, and now has to go back and concentrate on her 200.” Reference was to the women’s 200 meters semi-final round that was not completed when this column was produced and sent into the system.
Miller-Uibo was in the second of two heats and considered one of the medal favorites. Anthonique Strachan was listed for the first heat and Tynia Gaither, the third heat.
Of course there was worldwide interest to see how Miller-Uibo recovered from the 400 meters final disappointment. The 200 meters final will take place tonight, as the last event on Day 8.
A nation remains hopeful!
(The gremlins have been at work. Defying any plausible explanation, Shaunae Miller-Uibo mis-stepped on her way to gold in the 400 meters final on Wednesday. I must have had a momentary bout with the gremlins as well. I wrote in Wednesday’s column that Steve Gardiner was the second Bahamian behind Pauline Davis Thompson to win a medal in the 400 meters at the World Championships. On a number of previous occasions, I referred in my columns to Avard Moncur’s brilliant gold medal run in 2001. Moncur is in fact one of two World Championships 400 meters gold medal winners for The Bahamas. Tonique Williams won the 400 meters World Championship’ gold medal in 2005. Williams (2004) and Miller-Uibo (2016) have won the Olympic one-lap gold).
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