By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
WHEN the 16th International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) World Championships gets underway this weekend in London, England, Bahamas women's quarter-miler Shaunae Miller-Uibo will have a tall order to fill.
The 2016 Olympic Games' gold medalist and leader of the Bahamian 25-member team seems to be fit and ready for the duties ahead of her as she attempts to complete the 200 and 400 metre double for women over a five-day span.
No woman has ever won the 200/400m combo at the championships since its inauguration in 1983 in Helsinki, Finland. If Miller-Uibo does it, she will join American Michael Johnson, who made the achievement on the men's side in 1995 in Gothenburg, Sweden.
She didn't get a chance at the double last year at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro due to a tight schedule, but Miller-Uibo said her focus has been on that goal all season long with the format adjusted to accommodate her this year.
"I'm prepared for the rounds, but, as I stated earlier this season, my main focus will still be the 400m," she told The Tribune, while completing her training in Europe prior to heading to London to join up with her Bahamian teammates.
The 400m has always been her specialty.
Last year in Rio, she dove across the finish line to win the 400m title at the Olympics over American Allyson Felix as she avenged a loss in the final at the last World Championships in Beijing, China in 2015.
Miller-Uibo, who celebrated her 23rd birthday on April 15, said she's been training hard in preparation for her third appearance in the championships when she's expected to face Felix in another epic showdown.
Going into London, Miller-Uibo has posted the third fastest time this year - 49.77 seconds that she ran in Shanghai, China on May 13. Felix ran a world leading time of 49.65 in the pre-World Championship meet in London on July 9 with fellow American Quanera Hayes taking the USA Championships title in 49.72 in Sacramento, California on June 26.
As for the 200m, Miller-Uibo's time of 21.91 in Eugene, Oregon on May 27 puts her in second place behind her American training partner Tori Bowie, who won the race in Eugene in 21.77.
Although there are a number of top-notch competitors to face in London, including Jamaica's double Olympic gold medalist Elaine Thompson and 2015 world champion Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands in the half-lap race, Miller-Uibo said she's up to the task.
"I know the competition will be stiff, but once again I'm going out there to have fun and enjoy the moments and put on a great show for the crowd and of course the Bahamian people who I know would be watching," she insisted.
Miller-Uibo is looking to become just the second Bahamian to win a World Championship one-lap gold medal, joining Tonique Williams, who set the pace in her historic feat in 2005 in Helsinki, Finland.
Miller-Uibo is also the second Bahamian to win a silver medal at the championships, following in the footsteps of Pauline Davis, whose accomplishment came in 1995 in Gothenburg, Sweden.
As for the half-lap race, Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie holds the distinction of being the only medalist at the championships, earning a gold medal in 2001 in Edmonton, Canada.
For those who will be tracking her progress, the preliminaries of the women's 400m will take place on Sunday, August 6. The semifinal will run on Monday, August 7 and the final will be contested on Wednesday, August 9.
The preliminaries of the 200m will start on Tuesday, August 8 as well with the semifinal on Thursday and the final on Friday, August 11.
In addition to Miller-Uibo, the Bahamas will send two more competitors to the starting line-up with TyNia Gaither and Anthonique Strachan in the mix.
Gaither, now in her first round of competition as a professional athlete, is tied with Jamaican Shashalee Forbes with the 13th best time of 22.71, while Strachan, who is slowly returning to form after a series of injuries, is tied with Justine Palframan of the Republic of South Africa with the 22nd best time of 22.84.
With her heavy load at the nine-day championships, Miller-Uibo said she would only be available to run on the women's 4 x 400m relay team if the team advances to the final.
The preliminary round of the 1600m relay will take place on Saturday, August 12 and the final will be staged on Sunday, August 13 when the championships come to a close.
"Due to the numerous rounds from the double, when the ladies make it to the final, I can help out," she said.
Named to the women's relay pool are Strachan, Christine Amertil, Doneisha Anderson, Lanece Clarke and Shaquania Dorsett. The Bahamas has the 13th best time going into the championships with the national record performance of 3:26.36 by Clarke, Strachan, Carmiesha Cox and Amertil at the Rio Olympics.
Cox is on the Bahamas team in London in the 4 x 100m pool with Keianna Albury, Jenae Ambrose, Devynne Charlton, Gaither and Strachan. It's not known if Cox will also be made available for the 4 x 400m relay.
The Bahamas qualified for London in the women's 4 x 100m relay by placing sixth in 44.01 in the final of the third IAAF World Relays at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium on April 23 with the quartet of Devine Parker, Brianne Bethel, Tayla Carter and Gaither.
The Bahamas is still searching for its first medal in the four-lap (4 x 400m) relay to go with the one lap (4 x 100m) gold that the team of Savatheda Fynes, Chandra Sturrup, Davis, Ferguson-McKenzie and Eldece Clarke won in 1999 in Seville, Spain and the silver the team of Sheniqua Ferguson, Sturrup, Amertil and Ferguson-McKenzie achieved in 2009 in Berlin, Germany.