Shaunae Miller-Uibo reacts to her world 400m win in Oregon (© Getty Images)
When Shaunae Miller-Uibo crossed the finish line in the women’s 400m at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22, she ticked off the final item on her 'to do' list.
Miller-Uibo was 16 years old in 2010 when she won the world U18 title. Over the years, the Bahamian added the U20 title, the gold medal in the World Indoor Championships and not just one, but two, Olympic gold medals. But the top step on the World Athletics Championships podium had always eluded Miller-Uibo, who won silver medals in 2015 and 2019 and was fourth in 2017.
The 28-year-old would not be denied on Friday (22) at Hayward Field. Miller-Uibo led wire to wire, her long green hair flowing behind her, to win with a world-leading time of 49.11.
“It has been a long time coming and the main thing for us this season was the world championships and a gold medal,” Miller-Uibo said. “That’s one thing we were missing, so I ran a very tactical race. To go out with the gold, I am very proud.”
And with that, she announced that she would be shifting to the 200m. “That’s it for me running the 400m,” Miller-Uibo said. “The plans for me are the 200m, which has always been my first love, and get back into that.”
She led a Caribbean sweep, with Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic taking the silver in 49.60 and Sada Williams of Barbados claiming the bronze with a national record of 49.75.
Paulino, who had come into Eugene with a world-leading time of 49.49, earned the first medal for her country in the event to go along with her gold in the mixed 4x400m relay. Her compatriot Fiordaliza Cofil, who also earned gold on the mixed relay, placed sixth in 50.57. They were the first women from their country to make a 400m final.
Paulino said she was thankful that she stayed injury-free after five 400m races. “I am privileged to be able to represent my country and take it to the highest level,” Paulino said. “The Dominican Republic is a force to be reckoned with. Fiordaliza ran very well. This is a huge achievement. I was alone in the Olympics and she has now joined me.”
Williams was the first woman from Barbados to make the final and her country has won only one other medal at the World Championships: Ryan Brathwaite’s gold medal in the 110m hurdles in 2009.
Williams went under 50 seconds for the first time, with her previous PB being 50.11.
“It’s a very overwhelming feeling; I can’t even begin to describe it,” Williams said. “I’m super happy about my performance and the national record, of course. And it was a great experience.”
Asked about her confidence, she replied: “Confidence? Hmm. I just wanted to go out there and run under 50 seconds and if that got me on the podium, I’d be super happy about that.”
Williams recognised that the reception back in Barbados would also be overwhelming. “I don’t even want to look at my phone right now,” she said, “but I can only imagine how happy they are.”
Miller-Uibo blasted out of the blocks with the second-fastest reaction time and quickly made up the stagger, holding her advantage over Paulino.
Miller-Uibo, who is now 2-1 against Paulino, said the times didn’t matter to her. “It was all about making sure we secured the gold medal,” she said.
Her three medals in the 400m tie Allyson Felix, Ana Guevara, Jearl Miles-Clark and Lorraine Graham-Fenton. Miller-Uibo also captured the bronze in the 200m in 2017.
Lieke Klaver of the Netherlands was fourth in 50.33, followed by Stephenie Ann McPherson of Jamaica in 50.36.
The United States had no finalists for the first time since 2003.
Miller-Uibo’s husband, Estonian decathlete Maicel Uibo, embraced her after the race. He will now begin two days of competition. In 2019, they both won silver medals at the World Championships.
His wife has set the bar high.
Karen Rosen for World Athletics
|WOMEN'S 400m MEDALLISTS|
|🥇||Shaunae Miller-Uibo 🇧🇸 BAH||49.11 WL|
|🥈||Marileidy Paulino 🇩🇴 DOM||49.60|
|🥉||Sada Williams 🇧🇧 BAR||49.75 NR|