Shaunae Miller winning her heat in the 400m. (AP)
By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
RIO de Janeiro, Brazil: Shaunae Miller made her opening round of the women's 400 metres look so easy on Saturday at the Olympic Stadium.
As one of the favourites to claim her first Olympic Games medal, Miller took control of the fifth of six heats from the first 200m. By the time she came of the final curve, she was so far ahead that she started to shut it down.
Stopping the clock in 51.16 seconds as she crossed the line ahead of Australia's Morgan Mitchell, who closed in at the end in 51.30, Miller ended up with the fourth fastest time out of a field of 57 competitors.
The fastest qualifier going into Sunday's semi-final was American Phyllis Francis in 50.58. But Miller admitted that she's not concerned. She went out and did what she had to do and that was to advance to the next round.
"It felt pretty easy," were Miller's first few words as she made her way through the mixed zone to talk to the media.
"My coaches' instructions were to take it as easy as we could, just to set it up and just try to relax from there I think the race went well, tried to get through the rounds as easy as possible."
Based on her performance, Miller, who has the fastest time in the world this year, said she's in shape and ready to go in the semi-final.
"I'm waiting to see how they set it up, but I'm excited for it," she stated.
Not only is the 22-year-old Miller looking forward to going after the gold on Monday night, after she had to settle for the silver at last year's IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China, but she said she's delighted to be sharing the moment with her finance, Maicel Uibo, who is here competing in the decathlon for Estonia.
"We're doing it together, but it's a great experience. We're still being focused and we're excited to see we do at the games," said Miller, whose parents, Maybelene and Shaun Miller are a part of the Bahamian delegation here.
On Sunday, Miller drew lane four in the last of the three semis at 7:49 pm EST where she will have a rematch with American Allyson Felix, who beat her out for the gold last year in Beijing. Felix will be in lane three and Jamaican Christine Day is in five.
Felix had the sixth fastest time in winning her heat in 51.24 and Day, fourth at the World's last year, had the 15th best time of 51.54 as she also took first place in her heat.
The top two in each heat and the next two fastest times will clinch their berth into the final, set for 9:45 pm on Monday.
Also on Monday, the women's 200m will get underway and Miller said she will be ready to compete. The problem, however, is the Bahamas has already confirmed Ty'Nia Gaither, Anthonique Strachan and Sheniqua 'Q' Ferguon to compete.
In addition to Miller contesting the 400m semis on Sunday, the Bahamas will also feature three men in the qualifying round of the men's high jump. In group A, Trevor Barry will be the 14th out of 22 competitors, while Jamal Wilson will be 10th and Donald Thomas 21st out of 22 competitors as well.
They will start at 7:30 pm EST and the automatic qualifying height for the final on Tuesday at 7:30 pm EST will be 2.31m or 7-feet, 7-inches or they will take the 12 best performances.
And if he advances, Steven Gardiner will get to compete in the final of the men's 400m at 9 pm EST.