By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
ALTHOUGH they train in the warm weather conditions in Clermont, Florida, coach Lance Brauman didn’t mind bringing part of his Pure Athletics Track Club, led by two-time Olympic gold medallist Shaunae Miller-Uibo, to the sunny Bahamas for a week-long training camp.
“It’s nice. It’s January. We’re just coming off the Christmas break and so we wanted to change things up a little bit,” Brauman said. “Anytime you can go away on a little bit of a camp, it gets everybody focused because they get out their daily routine and start to think more about track and field.”
As they wrapped up their final training session on Friday at the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium, Brauman said he couldn’t ask for a better atmosphere to have the team, including Miller- Uibo’s husband, Estonia’s decathlete Maicel Uibo, British long jumper Jazmin Sawyers, American sprinter Lynna Irby and Trinidad & Tobago’s sprinter Khalifa St Fort, put in the necessary work to make the trip here a worthwhile one.
As for Miller-Uibo, she is coming off her successful defence of her gold medal in the women’s 400 metres at the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games last August in a new Bahamian national and NACAC area record of 48.36 seconds.
After turning in a sensational season in 2021, Brauman said he’s anticipating another banner year ahead of the 27-year-old Bahamian multiple indoor and outdoor national record holder in 2022.
“She had a great season last year, a couple of small injuries here and there towards the end, but she had a really good training session, so she was able to maintain fitness through the games,” he said. “When you can run your personal best at the Olympic Games and you’re still not feeling one hundred, that’s pretty good.”
The goal, according to Brauman, is for Miller- Uibo to remain healthy this season as she goes after the World Championships’ gold medal she missed out on in 2019 when she was beaten by Bahrain’s suspended Salwa Eid Naser in Doha, Qatar.
While Naser clocked the third fastest time in history of 48.14, Miller-Uibo trailed with the sixth best time of 48.37.
“We want her to continue to build on her performance last year,” Brauman said. “We want her to try to stay healthy as she gets ready to run and keep building on what she’s done over the past few years.
“She’s run 48.36 now and we both think she can run even faster. The plan is to run in the 47s and maybe take a legitimate shot at the world record (of 47.60 that was set by East Germany’s Marita Koch on October 6, 1985, in Canberra).
After missing out on another opportunity to complete a 200/400m double in Tokyo where she finished eighth in the final of the 200m two days before she stormed back to clinch the 400m gold, Brauman said Miller-Uibo will continue to run the two events during the season.
But whether or not she will contest the double feat at the World Championships or the Olympics again will all depend on the schedule.
“She’s training for both events so we will continue to do both races during the season, but whether she does both of them at the championships or the games will depend on the year and the schedule,” he said. “As for which event she will concentrate on during the meet, it all depends on how she’s training and what she looks like going into the championships.”
In their projection for the season, Brauman said the aim is to get Miller- Uibo prepared to run 21.5 (in the 200m) and 47-something (in the 400m), but they will wait before they decide which one she will contest at the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, August 6-15.
Looking at the rest of the Pure Athletics’ team members here in the Bahamas, Brauman said Irby has already ran 49.8 and as a training partner of Miller-Uibo, he expects her to lower her times tremendously based on her training sessions.
“We were hoping for a better year for her, but she was able to get two medals on the relay teams for the US in the mixed gender and the women’s 4 x400m, so it still turned out to be a good year for her.” Brauman said.
Sawyers, according to Brauman, finished eighth in the women’s long jump at the Olympics and is now training well. He figures that she too will rise to the occasion and soar at the World Championships.
Coming off some injuries as well last year, Brauman said Uibo is looking to rebound this year in the men’s decathlon and he’s right on track for a great comeback in the two-day, 10-event multiple competition.
“He took some time off to recuperate and he’s come back in really good shape, so I’m really pleased with that,” Brauman said of Uibo.
And while St Fort is a newcomer to the club, Brauman said after making Trinidad & Tobago’s women’s 4 x 100m relay team last year, he anticipates that she will come around and be a force to reckon with in both the 100 and 200m.
“We’re trying to get her in the shape that she was in about four years ago as a junior athlete,” Brauman said.
Although only five athletes made it here for the camp, there are a total of 17 athletes in Pure Athletics, including South Africa men’s 400m world record holder Wayde van Niekirk, American sprinter Noah Lyons, Panama’s Alonzo Edwards and Trinidad’s Kareem Richards.
“It’s a good mix of international athletes and I’m really pleased with their training at this point,” Brauman said.
“The weather has been really nice in Florida. It’s still pretty nice there, but this has been a nice chance to refocus on what’s going to happen this year.
“This is a talented group so the expectation is what it’s been in every championship year and that is to get some individual gold medals and have some people run some personal bests in the process and to represent their countries to the max.”
In summing up the trip here, Brauman said Miller- Uibo’s parents May and Shaun Miller Sr made everything so easy and that was evident by the manner in which they raised their daughter to be one of the finest athletes in the world to coach.
“She represents herself, her family and her country very well at all times,” Brauman said.
“You could never doubt that for once.”
And with the hospitality that he and his visiting athletes have received from the Bahamian people wherever they went, Brauman said the country rates as one of the best places he gets to travel to and will continue to come as long as he is welcomed in the manner he has been received.