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Shaunae Miller-Uibo Tribune Sports’ Female Athlete Of Year

Shaunae Miller-Uibo

Shaunae Miller-Uibo

By BRENT STUBBS

Senior Sports Reporter

bstubbs@tribunemedia.net

WITH another sterling 400-metre gold medal performance at the COVID-19 delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games a year later, Shaunae Miller-Uibo was in vintage form as she got her name stamped on another Tribune Sports’ Female Athlete of the Year.

In duplicating her dramatic feat when she dove across the line in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to edge out American Allyson Felix for her first gold medal, Miller-Uibo left nothing for chance as she obliterated the field in Tokyo, Japan on Friday, August 6, 2021.

On leaving her impression as well in the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) and Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations’ national record books, Miller-Uibo prevailed over a number of top-notch performances turned in by basketball standout Jonquel Jones, swimmer Joanna Evans, hurdler Devynne Charlton and tennis star Sydney Clarke, just to name a few in the final voting process.

With her 6-foot, 1-inch frame extended around the one-lap track at the Olympic Stadium, Miller- Uibo stood tall as her 48.36 clocking was so fast that both Dominican Republic’s Marileidy Paulino (49.20) and Felix (49.46) could only go along for the ride in her NACAC dominance.

Coming off her stunning defeat at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar behind the now doping related suspended Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain for her second silver medal, Miller-Uibo saved her best for her second finals appearance in the same Olympics, avenging her disappointment in the 200m when she was forced to jog across the finish line with a slight hamstring pull.

Denied her second bid to become the first Bahamian woman to earn the 200/400m at any of the global marquee events, Miller-Uibo stood atop the medal dais as the national anthem was played during the ceremonies, a feat achieved only by Tonique Williams with her back-to-back triumphs at the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, Finland.

It’s the second Female Athlete of the Year award for the 27-year-old Miller- Uibo, who earned the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture’s Senior Female of the Year honours on November 20 at the Baha Mar Convention Center. And for the second time, Miller-Uibo was listed as one of the top 10 nominees for the sport’s governing body World Athletes’ epic Female Athlete of the Year.

However, she could only watch as Jamaica’s sprinter Elaine Thompson-Herah posted a pair of world-leading marks to win both the World Championships; 100 and 200m, while adding another as a member of their victorious 4 x 100m relay.

Jonquel Jones back in grand style

In a performance upstaged only by the record-breaking gold medal performance from Miller-Uibo, Jonquel Jones returned from her relaxing at home in Grand Bahama for the bottled 2020 Women’s National Basketball Association season in a bubble at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, to produce a phenomenal 2021 season for the Connecticut Sun.

As the runner-up to The Tribune’s year-ending selection, the 27-year-old 6-6 centre emerged as the unanimous 2021 WNBA MVP after she helped the Sun to close out the season with a 14-game winning streak for a league-leading 26–6 win-loss record.

While she ended up averaging a career high in points and assists with averages of 19.4 points 11.2 rebounds 2.8 assist and 1.3 steals, Jones’ performance wasn’t enough to propel Connecticut all the way to the top as they fell short 3-1 in the championship series to the Chicago Sky.

As a fitting tribute to her season, Jones also made WNBA All-Defensive First Team and nearly won DPOY as well. With winning MVP Jones became the first player in WNBA history to win MVP, Sixth Women of the Year and the WNBA Most Improved Player Award.

With some unfinished business to take care of, Jones has extended her tremendous scoring and rebounding skills in the EuroLeague with the UMMC Ekaterinburg Foxes where she’s averaging 16.7 points, nine rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game. And with the best efficiency rating among all players at 22.5, she is also in the conversation for another MVP honour on a team roster that is loaded with WNBA stars such as Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm), Allie Quigley (Chicago Sky) and Courtney Vandersloot (Chicago Sky).

Prior to the completion of the WNBA season, Jones got in some national duties for her adopted home of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2023 Qualifier where she finished with 30 points and 17 rebounds in an 80-64 win over North Macedonia and a career high 44 points and 22 rebounds in her team’s 87-81 win over Belgium.

Joanna Evans makes splash in the pool

Two years after graduating from the University of Texas in 2019, Joanna Evans continues to sizzle as she produced a banner year to earn the 2021 Swammy Award for the Central American and Caribbean Female Swimmer of the Year.

In holding onto the third place finish in The Tribune’s voting process, the Grand Bahamian native competed in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, the 2021 FINA World Championships, and the 2021 International Swimming League regular and playoff seasons.

At the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, Evans placed 13th in the 400 metre freestyle in 4:07.50, just missing the national record of 4:07.33 that she set in May 2021 at the Longhorn Elite Invite.

Evans, at 24-years-old, went on to place 18th in the prelims of the 200 metre freestyle, posting a 1:58.40, just 0.37 off her own 2018 national record.

The 5-foot, 11-inch Evans was a vital member of the DC Trident during the 2021 ISL regular season and playoffs. As the ISL is a very sprint-oriented competition venue, many teams find themselves lacking in middle-distance specialists.

Evans, however, stepped up for the Trident in the 200 and 400 freestyles, lowering the Bahamian national record in the 200 freestyle first in Match 1 with a 1:56.63.

Later, in Match 4, Evans brought the record down to 1:56.37, which she followed up with a 1:55.70 from the ISL “death match” (Naples Match 11) that saw DC win its first-ever ISL match and earn a spot in the semifinals.

And in Playoff Match 1, Evans posted a 1:55.43, and a week later a 1:54.98 in Playoff Match 3. In Playoff Match 5, Evans lowered the record once again to a 1:54.36, the record that stands today.

Evans similarly lowered the Bahamian national record in the 400 SCM freestyle multiple times during the 2021 ISL season, first posting a 4:04.48 in the regular season Match 1 in Naples, breaking the national record in the 200 freestyle at the halfway mark in 2:00.75.

When she did compete in the individual 200 freestyle the following day, Evans lowered the record to a 1:56.63. In Match 4, she also dropped her in the 400m to 4:03.38 before lowering it again to 4:02.12 in Match 5.

And in the “death match” in Match 11 in Naples, Evans won the 400 freestyle by more than two seconds in her winning time of 4:00.14.

Evans, competing along with Izaak Bastian, Lilly Higgs and Lamar Taylor, closed out her season at the 15th edition of the FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships a few weeks ago in Abu Dhabi.

She became just the second Bahamian swimmer ever to advance to a short course world championships final following in the footsteps of Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, who won bronze in the 50 freestyle at the 2011 version of the meet.

In Abu Dhabi, Evans advanced to the final in both the 200 and 400 freestyles, finishing 8th in the 200 freestyle and 7th in the 400 freestyle, while missing out on lowering her national records in each final.

Devynne Charlton back in form at fourth

While qualified for her second appearance at the Olympics, Devynne Charlton, who sat out the first opportunity in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016 with a back injury, made good of her official debut in Tokyo.

As one of two representatives in the event, Charlton reached the final where she fell short clearing the 10 flights of 2-9 high hurdles in the 100m race in 12.74 in another NACAC sweep.

Olympic record holder Jasmine Camacho-Quinn (12.37) captured the first gold for Puerto Rico over American world record holder Kendra Harrison (12.52) with Jamaica’s Megan Tapper (12.55) getting the bronze.

It was a remarkable comeback year for Charlton, who was reunited with her former Purdue University Boilermaker coach Bahamian Roland ‘Lonnie’ Greene as he took over as the head coach of the University of Kentucky.

Former national record holder Pedrya Seymour, making her second appearance at the Olympics, finished ranked at No.16 in the standings after she placed eighth overall in her semi-final race in Tokyo in 13.09.

Sydney Clarke swings into fifth place

With the return of the Giorgio Baldacci Open Tennis Tournament after a year’s break because of COVID-19, Sydney Clarke retained her women’s title in a depleted field of competitors over the weekend at the National Tennis Centre. Playing in just two matches, top seed Clarke was also unblemished in a 6-1, 6-0 triumph over collegian Sierra Donaldson in the semi-finals and 6-2, 6-0 over No.2 seed Elana Mackey in the final.

Home from college like her counterparts, Clarke did her charitable gestures for the second straight year in securing food items for the Bahamas Children’s Emergency Hostel before she concentrated on her duties on the court.

The former CR Walker standout who went on to Windsor High and the Albany Tennis Academy before she enrolled at the University of Arlington at Birmingham, also played with Mackey and Sierra with player/captain Kerrie Cartwright on the Bahamas’ team at the Billie Jean King Cup, formerly the Fed Cup.

Clarke, now 20, posted a 2-1 win-loss record behind Cartwright’s perfect 3-0 mark as the Bahamas placed third in the Americas Zone II draw with a 2-0 decision over El Salvador in Panama City in June.

By virtue of their top two positions in Giorgio Baldacci, both Clarke and Mackey have booked their tickets as members of the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup that is expected to be played at a venue and date yet to be confirmed by the International Tennis Federation.

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