By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
LONDON, England — Just before she could get settled into her race, Shaunae Miller pulled up coming off the first curve in the heats of the Women’s 400m and her Olympic dream tearfully turned into disaster.
The 18-year-old University of Georgia bound graduate of St Augustine’s College, was making her debut as the first member of Team Bahamas in athletics action at the Olympic Stadium on Friday morning when she felt a twitch in her left hamstring and could go on no longer on the backstretch.
She went into a crouch as she watched the rest of the field make the journey without her. As she made her return in the opposite direction crying, Botswana’s world champion Amantle Montsho took the tape in 50.40 seconds.
Consoled by head women’s coach Dianne Woodside and chiropractor Jenn Davis, Miller went to the warm track as her father and coach, Shaun, and Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations’ president Mike Sands joined the entourage.
“Going into the race, she said she felt very, very good,” Woodside said. “She was treated by our chiropractor Jenn Davis and she said she was in very good spirits, so that was very good. The first 50 metres of the race, she looked very good.
“But she said she felt a problem with her hamstring. She felt it, but she continued to run. But she couldn’t go anymore because of how she felt. She was disappointed, but I told her it’s her first experience, take from it, it’s a wonderful experience. She has many years to go at this stage and she will recover from it.”
Miller was disappointed as she was hoping to redeem herself from the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain last month when she relinquished her title with a fourth place finish.
Woodside was reuniting with Miller after coaching her throughout high school until her father took her under his wings last year. And as they worked closely together on SAC’s Big Red Machine track team, Woodside said she was hoping for the best for her former prot�g�. “I just comforted her and let her know that everything was okay and I told her to take from this,” she said. “So I think she’s going to be okay. It’s tough.”
After meeting with the women’s team the night before, Woodside said everybody was optimistic, including Miller, about getting off to a great start. But she assured the Bahamian public that the setback would in no way diminish the expectations that they have for the remainder of Team Bahamas.
Shaun Miller, who is not officially a part of the team but is in London working directly with his daughter, said: “During the last couple of days, she was in extremely good shape and she didn’t have any injuries. This morning, we had a little over an hour warming up and she looked extremely well. So there was no concern.
“That’s why it was a little surprising when she went down. About 80 metres into the race, I saw her go down with a twitch and she started to pull up. It was disappointing because we really expected her to get out of this round and be in a position to contend for a medal.”
Having to wear two hats as her father and coach, Miller said it was a bitter sweet pill for him to swallow, but it came with the territory.
“I’m not really concerned at this point. I’m sure whatever the injury is, it isn’t anything that is career threatening,” he said. “As a coach, we feel it for all of our athletes when they go down. As her father, I know she’s a bit disappointed right now, but she will get ready and be back for the 2016 Olympic Games.”