Shaunae Miller-Uibo: Five things to know about the short-distance dynamo 

She's the Olympic 400m champion and one half of a medal-winning power couple, but how much do you know about the Bahamian sprint sensation? 

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

1 - She dived into the history books at Rio 2016... or should that be fell?

When Shaunae Miller-Uibo flung herself over the line to win 400m gold at the Rio 2016 Olympics, the world was convinced she had done so on purpose. It seemed to viewers of that legendary race to have been an instinctual dive to ensure she won the gold medal by the most wafer-thin of margins from the USA's Allyson Felix.

But Miller-Uibo remembers the race quite differently. For the Bahamian sprinter, who lay prostrate on the ground after her torso crossed the finish line first in 49.44s, the apparent "dive" was actually a fall caused by exhaustion.

In an interview with the USA's ABC news following the race, Miller-Uibo said: “It really wasn’t [intentional]. When I got to about 40 more metres to go my legs were so heavy from going around so fast and I started to lose feelings in them. And when I was heading towards the line, I was like ‘oh my gosh, I’ve gotta go.’ And afterwards I just felt nothing at all in my legs and I started falling.”

Fall, dive or somersault, the only thing that really matters is that Miller-Uibo now has a title that athletes everywhere dream about: Olympic champion.

2 - She's one half of a medal-winning power couple

The world championships in Doha 2019 were special for Miller-Uibo for more than one reason. Not only did she win silver in the 400m - the same result she had achieved in 2015 - she also celebrated a silver medal won by her husband Maicel in the decathlon.

How many couples have enjoyed a summer like that?

Maicel, who hails from Estonia, and Shaunae met at university and the love story has blossomed ever since. In a recent interview on the Olympic Channel podcast, Maicel explained how they first met and sowed the seeds of a relationship that remains strong to this day.

"It was at the University of Georgia, obviously it was the freshman year," he explained. "It was a freshman medical we had to take, a basic medical test to make sure that we were good to join the programme.

"So I had done my research, I saw all the freshmen who had just joined the team and I did my research on what event they did and everything, so I knew Shaunae was very fast.

"I think my first words were, 'oh, so you're the girl who has the faster PR than me!'

"It's been that way ever since, I think."

Shaunae assumed Maicel was also a 400m runner and her first thought, rather than being swept off her feet, was to wonder to herself "how did you get on the team?"

Now they have formed their own team, and a medal-winning one at that. Will they add more gongs to their trophy cabinet in Tokyo this year?

3 - Watch this space. We may soon see her competing in a completely different sport

If being the 400m Olympic gold medallist and 200m Commonwealth gold medallist wasn't enough, Miller-Uibo has her sights on another Olympic sporting discipline: Heptathlon.

Inspired by her decathlete husband, she has a strong desire to give heptathlon a go for at least one season before she retires, as she explained to World Athletics in 2019.

“We were actually considering it, we were actually doing workouts during training," she said. "It has everything to do with Maicel I would say, just being able to compete, it brought back a lot of memories.

"I used to do all of those events when I was younger too, so I wanted to try it at least once before I’m done with the sport… hopefully someday. We’re not going to close the door on that one yet.”

But there is one of the heptathlon event that may just see this world-class athlete come unstuck.

"My worst event would probably be, outdoors, the jav [javelin]," she explained. "I would probably really, really suck at that."

4 - She holds two world records in more obscure events

Athletes dream about owning a world record. Miller-Uibo has two.

However, they may not be in the events you'd usually associate with an Olympian.

The first is the women's 200m straight world record, a little-run race format that often takes place on streets and sees athletes battle it out over a straight-line 200m.

Miller-Uibo's world record in that event is 21.76, set in Boston in 2017.

The second world record she owns is an indoors mark at the non-Olympic distance of 300m. Her 2018 time of 35.35 puts her over half a second ahead of the USA's Sydney McLaughlin, the athlete who recently smashed the 400m hurdles world record at the US track and field trials.

Still, Miller-Uibo has a fair way to go if she wants to beat the world records in the events she most loves - the 400m and 200m. Her current PR in the 400m is 48.37, while the world record of Germany's Marita Koch sits at 47.60. Likewise, her 200m PR of 21.74, set in 2019, is four-tenths off of Florence Griffith-Joyner's best of 21.34 set all the way back in 1988.

5 - She's unique, unconventional... and she wouldn't have it any other way

One of the things that will keep you guessing about Miller-Uibo is the colour and style of hair she'll take into the next championship. It's a reflection of her personality that is as flamboyant as it is confident.

Talking to the Olympic Channel, the athlete explained her philosophy when it comes to choosing her hairstyles.

"I feel like I used to do dark colours all the time growing up and so now I'm just trying the pinks, the purples, the silvers, things like that.

"It's something that just makes me happy. If I see something that I like, or if I'm thinking of a colour that I like, I just put it in.

"But it all depends on what I'm feeling and how I'm feeling that."

Could there be a Tokyo 2020 themed hairstyle when the Olympic Games get started later this month? The world won't have to wait long to find out.


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