By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
Elite athletes are now focussing on the International Amateur Athletic Federation's Diamond League Finals.
The much anticipated championships-style winner-take-all format is set for the weekend of August 30-31 at the Weltklasse in Zurich, Switzerland and the AG Memorial Van Damme in Brussels, Belgium where the Bahamas will be represented by quarter-milers Steven Gardiner and Shaunae Miller-Uibo as well as high jumper Donald Thomas.
At stake, in addition to a Diamond Trophy, will be a hefty cash purse that includes $50,000 for first place, $20,000 for second, $10,000 for third, $6,000 for fourth, $5,000 for fifth, $4,000 for sixth, $3,000 for seventh and $2,000 for eighth.
While Gardiner and Miller-Uibo have earned their berths as one of the top seven qualifiers in the 400m, Miller-Uibo entered as well in the 200m and Thomas is one of the top 12 to crack the line-up in the high jump.
Over the course of the season, the athletes had a chance to qualify based on points accumulated in 12 meets that started in Doha, Qatar on May 4 and ended on Saturday in Birmingham, Great Britain.
In preparation of her expected defence of her 200/400m double crown, Miller-Uibo closed out the campaign on a high note in Birmingham where she came from behind on the home stretch in the women's 200m in the Muller Grand Prix to remain undefeated this season.
"The 200m isn't a race that I love. I really like to do it, but not as much as the 400m," said Miller-Uibo, who remains a double threat going into next weekend's finals.
"I'm happy to come out on top and get a pretty fast time. Once I put myself into the race off the curve, I used my 400m strength to power home."
While the Weltklasse meet takes place on Thursday, August 30, the AG Memorial Van Damme is set for Friday, August 31 where, if she decides to go for the double again, Miller-Uibo will have her hands full.
The one-lap race will be contested first, followed by the half-lapper about one hour and 50 minutes later. All indications are that Miller-Uibo will be focusing her attention on the former, but will not rule out the latter.
She goes into the final occupying the fourth spot in the 200m with 24 points from her three victories. Jamaica's Shericka Jackson and American Jenna Prandini are tied for first with 28 points and Marie-Josee Ta Lou is third with 25.
And in the 400m where she is also undefeated in two races, Miller-Uibo is tied for fifth with American Jaide Stepter with 16 points. Bahrain's Salwa Eid Nasar tops the list with 39 points. followed by Americans Jessica Beard and Phyllis Francis (32 pts each) and Shakima Wimbley (29 pts).
Also competing in Brussels will be Donald Thomas in the men's high jump. He skipped the meet in Birmingham to recuperate after turning in a gold medal performance at the Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC) and a bronze win at the North American and Central American and Caribbean Games (NACAC).
Heading into the meet, Thomas is sitting in third place on the standings with 21 points along with Majd Eddin Ghazal of Syria. Danil Lysenko of Russia heads the list, followed by Olympic and world champion Mutaz Essa Barshim from Qatar.
Before they compete, Gardiner will return to action in the men's 400m. He has competed sparingly this season, but remains unbeaten. He will be the only competitor entered in Zurich and will be out to redeem himself after he slipped out of the blocks and didn't complete the final last year.
Gardiner, who has been unbeaten in the only two Grand Prix events he competed in this year, is currently in fifth place on the standings with 16 points. Qatar's Abdalelah Haroun is the leader with 35 points.