Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas was so good at the 200 and 400m in 2018 that she is among the gold medal favourites for both events at next year’s IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar.
However, that double is not likely as the World Championships schedule makes it nearly impossible. Miller-Uibo is hoping things will change.
Undefeated at both events in 2018, the 24-year-old star won all seven of the 200m races she entered this season and each of the three 400m contests she ran as well. In the longer race, she led the world with a national record 48.97 seconds, which made her the 10th fastest woman in history over the distance. In her last meet of the season, the IAAF Continental Cup, she showed her versatility with a win over Holland’s Dafne Schippers in the 200m and spritely legs for the Americas 4×100 and 4x400m relay teams.
However, the double she did in London at the 2017 World Championships is even harder to tackle in Doha.
The 200 and 400m heats are at 5:05 p.m. and 6:20 p.m. local time, respectively, on day four for the Championships, and the semi-finals arrive at 8:35 p.m. and 9:35 p.m. respectively on day five.
Though the finals are separated by a day, Miller-Uibo is not thinking of combining both events in Doha. “The schedule is way too tight to attempt a double, so we will be focusing solely on just one event for the World Championships next year,” she told The Gleaner last Thursday.
Faced with a similar difficulty as the 1996 Olympics approached, American great Michael Johnson asked for a change in the schedule that would favour the 200-400m double. The Bahamian hopes the same will happen again. “That would be great if they could, but there would have to be major adjustments for the schedule to accommodate 200-400m doubles, as both semis, which are usually a pretty tough round, are just a few minutes apart”, she said.
She tried the 200-400m double in London and finished fourth in the full-lap race, and third in the 200m. Then the 200m heats came on the day between the 400m semis and final. South African Wayde van Niekerk tried the same double in London and won the men’s 400m but trailed Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev in the 200m.
By contrast, Johnson got his wish in 1996 and duly did the double. There was another beneficiary, as long-legged French galloper Marie-Jose Perec also won both events. In the 200m, she zoomed past Jamaica’s Merlene Ottey to secure her second gold medal of those games.She is instead looking forward to a kinder schedule at the 2020 Olympics. “I’m hoping, however, that in 2020, this will be possible”, she projected.
She has not yet chosen the event she will focus on in Doha and she does not know yet which one will be tougher. “I’m not sure which event will be the most competitive,” she said in a statement. “There’s always new people popping up, but I’m always up for a great challenge and I love competing against the best fields possible.”