During the early 1940s when Leroy Miller was growing up in the Berry Islands and showing athletic promise, he had no idea of the prominent line of quality performers in track and field he would produce.
Bahamian families steeped in sports excellence include the Rodgers (Andre, Lionel, Adrian, Roy, Randy); the Fords (Wenty, Eddie, Mario, Linda, Wardy, Kevin); the Isaacs, Norths, and Archers.
Well, another family belongs in that elite circle.
In adding a down memory lane touch to World Relays III, I focus today on the Millers.
It’s been virtually a secret that Leroy Miller did some sprinting and was good in his own right. He started a sports journey that would include up to the present, three additional generations of quality track and field athletes.
Some readers might have guessed it by now.
Yes, Leroy Miller was the great grandfather of the awesomely talented Shaunae Miller, the reigning Olympic 400 meters queen and one of the most notable athletes in the world. Today, Shaunae carries on the Miller sports tradition in a big way, with her little brother Shaun, he of the Carifta high jump gold medal fame, following on her heels.
Six of Leroy’s boys were outstanding track and field athletes, namely Hardy, Leslie, Cleveland, Don, Rudolph and Terry.
Hardy was a gutsy, rugged, sprinter who was a tough task for opponents, consistently, in three events, the 100, 200 and 400 meters.
Younger brother Leslie, (he, also, of political fame, the one we know as the Potcake), was the first international 400 meters elite performer for The Bahamas and also a national long jump champion. Leslie’s greatest claim to fame is cracking the 47 seconds barrier in the 400 meters.
Don was exclusively a triple jumper, one of note. Rudolph, Cleveland and Terry were middle distance runners primarily. However, Cleveland and Rudolph also stood out significantly when road races were major sports/social events during the 1960s and 1970s. Rudolph, Cleveland and their ilk, set the stage for the Marathon Bahamas era.
A granddaughter, Rochelle, could have in my view, been as world known as Shaunae, had she continued. Rochelle was a gifted distance runner who seemed capable of excelling at middle and long distance running. Up to today, no other Bahamian female distance runner has, in my personal opinion, demonstrated her level of potential.
At the third version of the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) World Relays that concluded Sunday at the Thomas A. Robinson national Stadium, Shaunae’s popularity and reputation were in full evidence.
When she strode around track she captivated the universe. On Friday when the formal IAAF/Local Organizing Committee press conference took place, Shaunae was asked about the special ingredient possessed by Bahamians. She spoke to the heart/desire of Bahamians in competition.
The same characterized the Millers throughout the years.
As Shuanae and Shaun (as the present standard bearers of the Miller track and field legacy), write their chapters in Bahamian sports history, for posterity sake, I make the connection to the patriarch. The talent line started with the late Leroy Isaac Miller, formerly of the Berry Islands.
Continued best wishes Shaunae and Shaun!
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org).