TOKYO (AP) — The scrapes on her knee, stomach and forearms have long since healed. Well worth the price for that 400-meter gold medal.
The last time everyone saw Shaunae Miller-Uibo on the Olympic stage, the sprinter from the Bahamas was diving across the finish line.
It was a memorable moment from Rio.
In Tokyo, she’s trying to make her mark in another way — with the possibility of a difficult double. Miller-Uibo is chasing after the 200 gold and — depending on how she’s feeling — defending her 400 crown. That would require four races spread over two days, including the first round of the 400 meters and the 200 final 12 hours apart on Tuesday.
That’s a lot of work. But she’s game.
What’s a little pain for gold, right? After all, she flew over the line with her arms spread out to edge Allyson Felix by 0.07 seconds in Rio.
Miller-Uibo felt those aches for days and days after the race.
“But it was all worth it,” Miller-Uibo told The Associated Press. “I wouldn’t trade those moments nor the aches and pains that came with it for the world.”
That stumble across the line, Miller-Uibo maintained, wasn’t on purpose. She was just so exhausted and with about 50 meters left, “my engine lights went on,” she explained.
“I couldn’t really feel my legs anymore,” Miller-Uibo added. “I just remember wanting it so bad that I started leaning early for the line. I felt my legs go from under me and next being on the ground with a win to my name.”
Miller-Uibo’s success that day was a tough blow over a difficult 2016 Olympic season for Felix. The International Olympic Committee had arranged the track schedule to give her an opportunity to run the 200-400 double that year without any overlap. But Felix didn’t qualify in the shorter race, then settled for silver in the 400.
Miller-Uibo didn’t receive that sort of treatment for her endeavor. She’s giving it a go.
That’s the plan as of now, anyway. It could change depending on fatigue.
The 200 remains the priority, simply because it’s her first race on the schedule. She has the first round and the semis on Monday.
The difficult day will be Tuesday, with round one of the 400 at 9:45 a.m. local time and the 200 final — she’s among the favorites — at 9:50 p.m.
“I’m feeling great,” 27-year-old Miller-Uibo said.
The most memorable 200-400 double was turned in by Michael Johnson, who put on quite a show while winning both races at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
On the women’s side, it’s been attempted a few times. Olympic historian Bill Mallon said one of the more notable tries was from Cathy Freeman, the Australian sprinter who won the the 400 meters and made the final of the 200 — taking sixth — at the 2000 Sydney Games.
Miller-Uibo’s not the only member of her family going for gold in Tokyo. There’s also her husband, Estonian decathlete Maicel Uibo. The two met as freshmen at the University of Georgia when they had a few classes together. They also trained at the same time.
“We would always see each other,” Miller-Uibo said. “We became really good friends and the story goes on from there.”
It was a silver showing for the couple at the 2019 world championships in Doha. They are hoping to upgrade in Tokyo.
Miller-Uibo finished runner-up in the 400 that night in Doha behind Bahrain sprinter Salwa Eid Naser, who won in a time of 48.14 seconds — the fastest time since 1985.
Naser won’t be in Tokyo.
She recently had a two-year ban upheld following three “whereabouts failures” within a 12-month period.
The 200-meter field is stacked. Heading the list is Gabby Thomas, the Harvard grad who went 21.61 to become the second-fastest woman ever behind the late Florence Griffith Joyner (21.34). There’s also the Jamaican trio of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Shericka Jackson and reigning Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah.
That’s only a few.
Just as loaded is the 400, where there’s the 35-year-old Felix, who qualified for her fifth Olympics. Felix was second at the U.S. trials behind Quanera Hayes. The other top contender is Stephenie-Ann McPherson of Jamaica.
Miller-Uibo has the top time in the world this season at 49.08, which she ran in April.
One thing’s for sure: She will be easy to spot on the track. She likes to mix up her hair color.
“Growing up I’ve always had a love for colors, and I always loved seeing women be bold and rock whatever color they wanted while not caring about how others felt about it,” Miller-Uibo said. “One of those women (is) my mom. Every time she did her hair she would put a streak of color through it and it always put a smile on my face. I couldn’t wait until I got to the age to do the same with my hair and now it’s a part of who I am.”
Any particular color choice in Tokyo?
“Just expect a variety,” Miller-Uibo said.
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