Shaunae Miller-Uibo celebrates after winning the gold medal in the women's 400-metre final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
FORGET the injury. Erase the major disappointment of last place in the 200 metres. Shaunae Miller-Uibo was in vintage form as she blew away the field to successfully defend her title in the 2020 Olympic Games women’s 400 metres.
The 27-year-old Miller-Uibo obliterated the field in a North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) area record time of 48.36 on a historic Friday at the Tokyo National Stadium, beating silver medallist Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic by about 5-10m.
It was just shy of the Olympic Games’ record of 48.25 that was set by Marie-Jose Perec of France in Atlanta, Georgia in 1996, but it erased her national record of 48.36 that she did two years ago in picking up the silver at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar.
Paulino trailed in a national record of 49.20 and American Allyson Felix, the most decorated female athlete at the games, closed out her storied career with a gallant comeback effort out in lane nine for the bronze in a season’s best of 49.46 – her 10th Olympic medal.
Miller-Uibo’s performance came moments after NACAC president Mike Sands presented the flowers to Steven Gardiner during the medal presentation for his victory in the men’s 400m the day before as the national anthem was played for the first time in the games.
Now for the second time in two consecutive games, Miller-Uibo will return to the top of the podium as she collects her second Olympic gold and the third for Bahamian women, following the initial one earned by Tonique Williams in 2004 in Athens, Greece.
While Gardiner and Williams are the only two Bahamians to capture both the World Championship and Olympic gold medals in consecutive outings, Miller-Uibo has earned an achievement of her own – the first and only back-to-back Olympic champion to go along with her silver medal at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar.
Using her 6-foot, 1-inch frame, Miller-Uibo took her time coming out of the blocks in lane seven. She stayed comfortably in the pack on the back stretch. But, coming off the curve, she surged to the front and in traditional style, she turned on the burners and wasn’t challenged to the line.
There had been some concerns after she had to jog through the finish of the women’s 200m final after feeling some discomfort in her hamstring. But Miller-Uibo didn’t seem to have any issues in the 400m.
With her performance on the heels of Gardiner’s, The Bahamas has moved up from 60th to 36th on the medal chart with a pair of gold medals and the national anthem played for the second time in one night. The Bahamas has now accumulated a total of 14 medals in track and field, including seven gold, extending their streak of winning at least one every games since Frank Rutherford broke the ceiling with his bronze in the men’s triple jump in 1992 in Barcelona, Spain.