By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
IT was a unique love affair all around in London, England, for Shaunae Miller-Uibo at the 16th International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) World Championships.
Still in the honeymoon phase of her February 4 marriage to her college sweetheart Maicel Uibo - a decathlete from Estonia - in the Crown Ballroom at Atlantis, Paradise Island, Miller-Uibo found herself chasing a feat in the women’s 200/400 metre double that has never been accomplished.
Since she was denied the opportunity to attempt the feat last year when she clinched the Olympic Games’ gold medal in the 400m in a dive across the finish line ahead of her American rival, Allyson Felix, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Miller-Uibo had petitioned the IAAF for a change in the schedule to go after the feat in London.
With her goals set to perfection as she was completing the perfect race in the 400m final, her legs just gave away as she relinquished almost a 10-20m lead in the last 50m and ended up in fourth place.
With no spot on the podium to receive another global medal, Miller-Uibo had to go back to her first love of the sport, the 200m, where she eventually rebounded from the crashing defeat in the one-lap race to snatch the bronze in the half-lap race.
In falling short of her goals, Miller-Uibo said she has to look at it as a learning process that will only make her stronger as she continues that quest for global supremacy in the years to come.
“I think it’s been a great experience for me. I’m still young and I still have a lot more years in me, so I’m just taking it one step at a time,” she said. “Obviously, the championships didn’t go as planned, but I don’t let things get me down.
“It only encourages me to go even better the next time so for right now, I’m happy with my performance. I think I came back pretty strong and I’m just looking forward to moving on from here.”
This weekend, Miller-Uibo is expected to be back in action in England at the Grand Prix Birmingham where she will get a chance for redemption against the World Championships’ three medallists, American champion Phyllis Francis, Bahrain’s silver medallist Salwa Eid and, of course, Felix, the bronze medallist.
She admits that because of her love for the event, the 200m will be more memorable for her than the disappointment that took place in the 400m that put a damper on the celebrations intended with her husband, family members and friends in London.
“Coming from the disappointment of the 400m, I was able to shake it off and come back and still be able to get a medal,” she pointed out. “I thank God for taking me through every step of the way.”
Despite not attaining her lofty goals this year, Miller-Uibo said it’s still on her ‘to do list” so she’s going to look at what the future holds as she prepares to come back and try it again in the 17th edition of the championships in Doha, Qatar, September 28 to October 6, 2019.
“The good thing I got from it is that it can be done,” Miller-Uibo reflected. “It was just so unfortunate what happened in the 400. I felt I had the race in control. Then in the 200, I went out there and I tried my best.
“We worked hard this season. I know in two year’s time, I will be more than prepared. I just hope the world is ready to see what we can bring in 2019. We’re definitely going back at the double and see how things work out. So I’m looking forward to it.”
Her husband, Maicel, who had double duties competing in the decathlon, was right by the side of his wife, cheering and supporting her every step of the way.
“It was particularly exciting. In the multiple events, we do it a little different from those in the individual event, but it was interesting to see how they go through the rounds,” he said. “It’s more of a guessing game to see how everybody will place in the final.”
Looking at the attempt by his wife for the rare double, he said he felt she gave it her best shot. “The trip in the 400m was unfortunate, but overall I think she did very well,” he said.
When they are both done, Uibo said he’s working harder because right now he wants to be able to match his performance with that of his wife when they have their conversation around the dinner table.
Coming from Estonia, a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe to the sunny isles of the Bahamas just off the coast of Florida, Uibo said he’s been warmly received into the Miller family and welcomed in the track fraternity.
“I like it. I feel like I’m in a good place,” said Uibo, who does most of his training in the Bahamas while Miller-Uibo is in Florida.
Miller-Uibo’s father, Shawn Miller, who had the pleasure of giving his daughter away twice – the first in a coaching change with George Cleare and the second in her hand in marriage to Uibo – said he’s proud of her achievements.
“I was very impressed with her performance. I have to mention the team around her. She had a new coach, Lance Brauman, who did an excellent job getting her prepared to go for the double,” he said.
“It was a little unfortunate what took place, but this is track and field. I guess it was God’s way of saying not now, or to test her faith. It was there. She was ready for it.
“I think Brauman did a great job in getting her ready. Her medical team also kept her fit for the whole year and her manager and agents did a good job in placing her in the right meets at the right time of the year.”
Despite not attaining the double, Miller said the good thing is that the world saw that she has the ability to do it. After the disappointment of the 400m, he said she was able to bounce back for the 200m and held on for the bronze.
“That was a bronze against the best in the world,” Miller said.
With the Commonwealth Games on the horizon for next year, the Miller-Uibo camp is looking forward to making a splash on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, April 4-15.
Before that, she’s also looking at participating in the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, United Kingdom, March 2-4.
In the meantime, Miller-Uibo said she will try to squeeze in as much time as she can with her husband as they get ready to enjoy their honeymoon, which was delayed because of the vigorous training routine that they both had to endure after the wedding.