The inclusion of Shaunae Miller-Uibo in the Bahamian team to contest both the 200 and 400 meters at the upcoming Tokyo Olympic games is welcome news for those wishing to see her duplicate the 200/400 double last achieved by the legendary Michael Johnson and Marie-José Pérec at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.
Though Miller-Uibo has been one of the fastest women over both 200m and 400m for the past two years, she expressed doubts in 2020 about contesting the double, given what she regards as the tight schedule for the two events at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
She has requested adjustments to the schedule to allow her to attempt the 200m/400m double in Tokyo, which has been allowed in the past for Michael Johnson, Allyson Felix, and Marie-José Pérec.
To date, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has not granted the request.
Given the IOC’s reluctance to change the event schedule as Miller-Uibo requested, the Bahamian was leaning more to contesting the 200m in Tokyo, rather than defending her 400m title, which she gained by her controversial dive over the finish line to deny Allison Felix gold at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Perhaps, in making that decision, she factored in the whopping she received from rising star Salwa Eid Naser in the 400m at the 2019 World Championship in Doha, as well as her dominance over the 200m over the last two years.
But things have changed considerably over the past month: The 400m field is much less competitive while the competitiveness of the 200m has increased significantly.
It was not known until quite recently that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) would have upheld appeals from World Athletics and the World Anti-Doping Agency, which effectively led to Salwa Eid Naser being banned from competing at the Tokyo Olympics.
Additionally, though Miller-Uibo looked comfortable in convincingly winning the 400m in 49.08 at the USATF Grand Prix on April 24th, she may have been thinking about the times being run by the Namibian pair of Christine Mboma (48.54) and her teammate Beatrice Masilingi (49.53).
However, in addition to Naser’s ban, both Mboma and Masilingi have been withdrawn from contesting the 400m at the Olympics because of high testosterone levels, making the path to the 400m title much easier for Miller-Uibo. The most competitive time she now faces is the 49.60 sec recently done by Stephanie-Ann McPherson at the Jamaican Olympic Trials.
Things are quite different in the 200m though. The field will be stacked with the likes of Gabby Thomas, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Sherika Jackson, Elaine Thompson-Herah, Dina Asher-Smith, and Blessing Okagbare.
Gabrielle (Gabby) Thomas seems to be in scintillating form, running a world leading time of 21.61 sec in the 200m finals at the US Olympic trials, after posting 21.98 sec in the heats, and 21.94 sec in the semi-finals. All those times are better than Miller-Uibo’s season best of 22.03 sec.
The indomitable warrior, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, with her sight set on winning the sprint double in Tokyo and further enhancing her legacy, has made her intention known with a personal best of 21.79 sec. in winning the 200m at the Jamaican Olympic Trials.
At the same trials, the fast-rising Shericka Jackson, whom Ato Boldon predicts will medal in the 200m in Tokyo, ran a personal best of 21.82 sec. Many pundits believe that she will run much faster when the games begin.
Then there is the other Jamaican, Elaine Thompson-Herah, the reigning Olympic double sprint champion, who has a personal best of 21.66 sec (2015) and a season best of 22.05 sec in placing third at the Jamaican Trials. Thompson-Herah, with coach Stephen Francis preparing her, cannot and must not be overlooked.
Dina Asher-Smith, the reigning world champion in the 200m, clocked a season best of 22.05 sec in the event at the Diamond League in Florence back in June. She is expected to be sharper and quicker in Tokyo.
And let’s not forget Blessing Okagbare, who with a personal best time of 22.04 sec, has beaten both Elaine Thompson-Herah and Dina Asher-Smith over 200 meters.
Though the field will be stacked, Shaunae Miller-Uibo, with a personal best time of 21.74 sec (Zürich 2019) and a season best of 22.03 sec, must consider herself as being competitive in the 200m in Tokyo.
Can Miller-Uibo compete effectively in the 200m/400m double in Tokyo? Why not?
Based on the event schedule, the heats of the women’s 400m are set for some time between 9:00 am and 12:00 noon, closer to the former, on Tuesday August 3, 2021. The final of the women’s 200m is scheduled for about 9:50 pm the same day.
Miller-Uibo could cruise the first round of the 400m to qualify and have a break of more than 10 hours before the start of the 200m final.
The semi-finals of the women’s 400m are set for a time between 6:30pm and 10:00pm the following evening (August 4th), with the final scheduled for two days later (Aug 6th) for a time between 7:50pm and 10:55pm. She would be more than well rested for the 400m final.
Generally, legendary performances require a combination of factors including hard work, determination, and risk. Shaunae Miller-Uibo has an excellent chance of winning both the 200m and 400m in Tokyo, thus joining the legendary Marie-José Pérec. Who would not hail such an achievement?
Go for it Shaunae, greatness beckons.