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Two make women’s 200m final

Miller-Uibo bounces back; Gaither runs strong to make first world final
  • The Bahamas' Shaunae Miller-Uibo crosses the finish line to win her women's 200 meters semifinal at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in London Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017. AP

  • Tynia Gaither.

Guardian Sports Editor

Published: Aug 11, 2017

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LONDON, England – For the first time ever at the world championships, two Bahamians are in the final of the women’s 200 meters (m).

Shaunae Miller-Uibo proved that she is quite healthy after that slip-up in the final of the women’s 400m, winning her semi-final heat easily in 22.49 seconds, tying defending champion Dafne Schippers, of the Netherlands, with the fastest time going into the final.

After it was discovered that she was fine, Miller-Uibo’s bounce back was expected, but Tynia Gaither put the world on notice last night with a splendid run inside the Olympic Stadium at the 16th International Association of Athletic Federations’ (IAAF) World Championships, in London, England.

She finished fourth in her semi-final heat in 22.85 seconds, and moved in tonight’s final as one of the two non-automatic qualifiers. Just the first two in each heat, and the next two fastest times qualified for the final.

The other Bahamian in the semi-finals, Anthonique Strachan, finished eighth in her semi-final heat in 23.21 seconds. Strachan struggled to get off the curve, and it cost her big time as she brought up the rear in that semi-final heat. She had the slowest start in the field, a reaction time of just .207.

In the second semi-final heat, Miler-Uibo ran a pretty moderate curve, but moved in front on the home stretch and then pulled away for the comfortable win. Kimberlyn Duncan was second in that semi-final heat in 22.73 seconds to grab the other automatic qualifying spot for the final. She will run out of the center of the track in lane five tonight, and Gaither will run out of lane three.

The final will take place at 9:50 p.m. in London, 4:50 p.m. back in The Bahamas.

Speaking to reporters afterward, Miller-Uibo said that it feels good to be back.

“It’s a blessing,” she said. “I just want to wash away what happened in the final of the 400 and just focus on the 200 meters, so that’s what I’m doing. “We’ve been training for this for so long, and everything is looking good.”

About running so many days in a row, doing the 200 and 400 meters at these world championships, Miller-Uibo said she prepared for it all season. She said that fatigue wasn’t a major factor – she just misstepped at the most inopportune time.

Gaither was determined, and it was evident on her face before her semi-final heat even began. She was focused, knowing that a time of 22.95 seconds or lower, and at least a fourth place finish, would get her into her first final at a major international meet – world championships or the Olympics.

Gaither came off the bend in fourth place and ran the kind of home stretch that is indicative of champions. She powered up next to Canada’s Crystal Emmanuel, tying her in time, but behind her in position, due to a photo finish. Both were timed in 22.85 seconds – for Gaither, her fastest time since her season opener at the Grenada International Invitational in April.

Marie-Josee Ta Lou, of the Ivory Coast, won that semi-final heat in 22.50 seconds to qualify third for the final behind Schippers and Miller-Uibo, and Dina Asher-Smith, of Great Britain, was the second automatic qualifier from that semi-final heat, running a season’s best time of 22.73 seconds. Emmanuel was third, and Gaither finished fourth in an identical time as both grabbed spots in the final.

“I was in a different zone that I haven’t felt for a long time,” said Gaither. “I wanted this really bad, and I know that I had to go get it. After being stuck for a while, I’m back and I don’t plan on losing myself again. It feels so good to be back. I had to really fight for that, but it all comes down to who wants it, and I’m one of the ones who wants it the most.”

Gaither said that it feels awesome to be back in the form that she experienced early in the season, and really and truly, the form that she showed when she set her personal best mark of 22.54 seconds at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Championships in Eugene, Oregon, USA, last year. Health-wise, she said that she feels fantastic and is looking forward to a strong performance in tonight’s final.

“I feel great, very good,” she said. “I feel very good about that time, back to myself and back to what I do best – the times that I’m used to running. I want to medal, and that’s my motivation right now – that’s my goal, to win a medal.”

Gaither will run out of lane three, and Miller-Uibo in lane five, in the final tonight, which will feature two Americans, two Bahamians, defending champion Schippers, Ta Lou, Emmanuel and Asher-Smith.

First the first time ever, there are no Jamaicans in the women’s 200m final at the world championships, and also for the first time, there are two Bahamians in that event at the world championships. Pauline Davis-Thompson and Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie accomplished the feat at the Olympics, but until last night, it had never been done at the world championships.

“It’s just a blessing to be one of those two. I’m going to be running alongside one of the greatest athletes to ever come through The Bahamas, so just to be in the field with her and those other ladies is going to be amazing,” said Gaither.

Miller-Uibo is looking for redemption after that slip in the women’s 400m final, and Gaither is looking to make a name for herself. Both have already made a nation proud, advancing to the final of the women’s 200m at the highest level of athletics worldwide.

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