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Shaunae Miller back home, looking forward to the relays

The focus, for now, is on the women’s 4x200m relay event
  • Shaunae Miller back home

    Shaunae Miller, left, is greeted by Pauline Davis-Thompson in this photo. Miller is back in The Bahamas for a short visit and will return next week for the IAAF World Relays Bahamas 2014.

SHELDON LONGLEY
Guardian Sports Editor
slongley@nasguard.com

Published: May 14, 2014

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One of The Bahamas’ most prominent track stars is looking forward to her first meet at home as a senior professional athlete.

Shaunae Miller is set to represent The Bahamas at the inaugural International Association of Athletics Federation’s (IAAF) World Relays Championships, which will be held May 24-25 at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. Back home for a short while before returning next week for the relays, she said that she is as excited as she has ever been to be running at home. Last spring, she was a triple gold medalist at the CARIFTA Games in The Bahamas; this time, she’ll be competing as a senior athlete in front of a global audience.

The 20-year-old sprinter is hopeful that she and her teammates will be able to put on a good show for the Bahamian people.

“I’m really excited. I just ran one race so far, and that was in early April, but I feel pretty good. I’m healthy and looking forward to the World Relays,” she said yesterday. “This is the first time having this meet, and the first time it’s going to be in The Bahamas, so I’m really looking forward to it. All of the athletes I’ve talked to are looking forward to it as well. It’s in The Bahamas. Who doesn’t want to come to The Bahamas? As far as I know, everyone is excited to be coming here. We can’t wait! It should be awesome!”

Miller has already made a significant impact as a senior athlete. Last August, she made headlines as the youngest female athlete ever to advance to a World Championships final in the women’s 200 meters (m). She went on to finish fourth in the final, in 22.74 seconds. This year, she became one of the youngest ever to win a medal at the world indoor championships, claiming bronze in the women’s 400m in 52.06 seconds in Sopot, Poland.

Miller is a former world youth and former world junior champion in the 400m; she finished her junior career in the top 10 of all time in both the 200m and 400m.

This will be her first meet at home as a senior athlete and since signing a professional contract with athletics giant Adidas.

“I’m really hoping that a lot of Bahamians come out and support us,” said Miller. “It’s going to be really special to run in front of the Bahamian people again. When I ran at the CARIFTA Games last year, it was amazing. The Bahamian people supported us well at that meet, so I’m hopeful that they come out and support us again. It’s going to be real exciting. Hopefully, it will be a great show.”

Miller could easily run either of the sprint relays for The Bahamas, but for now, she said the focus is on the women’s 4x200m.

“When you look at the 4x200m, I think that we have three athletes who have gone under 23 seconds this season. That’s myself, Anthonique (Strachan) and Sheniqua Ferguson, so that should be a pretty fast race,” said Miller. “Anthonique is leading the way right now with a 22.5. I have a 22.87, and then ‘Q’ (Ferguson) just recently ran a 22.9, so I think that we have a really good chance of doing well in that event. Once everything goes well, in terms of exchanges, I think we’ll do pretty well.”

The Bahamas actually has four ladies who have run under 23 seconds this year, when factoring in University of Southern California (USC) redshirt sophomore Tynia Gaither. However, Gaither could very well have school commitments and might not be able to represent The Bahamas at the World Relays. She has a personal best run of 22.99 seconds this year. Strachan has run 22.59 seconds; Miller has a season’s best of 22.87 seconds, and Ferguson has run 22.97 seconds this year.

“I’m looking forward to the women’s 4x200m,” said Miller. “I also like our chances in the men’s 4x100m and the 4x400m. I think that we’ll have a real good showing in those events.”

As far as her first world indoor championships are concerned, Miller said that she believes the experience she got in Sopot, Poland will carry her a long way. Miller was stuck in the outside lane in the final, but still powered through for the bronze medal, her first at a major senior international meet.

“The experience was nice. It was okay running with the seniors. It definitely wasn’t easy, but I’m happy that I went in there and came out with a medal,” said Miller. “I drew a bad lane and it was very hard, but overall, it was a great experience. I loved it. I can’t wait for the next one,” she added.

Despite the medal breakthrough indoors, Miller said that she definitely prefers running outdoors. She said that life has been a bit more hectic as a professional athlete, but she’s enjoying the transition, and is looking forward to competing on the tour in Europe this summer. She also has plans to run in the 20th Commonwealth Games, set for July 28 to August 3 in Glasgow, Scotland.

“The main goal this season is just to stay healthy,” said Miller. “There’s not a lot of big meets this year, so hopefully I can stay healthy going into the World Championships next year. That’s the main goal for now.”

Next year’s World Championships will be held in Beijing, China. After making the final in Moscow, Miller is looking to take it to a different level next year, hoping to ascend to the medal dais. For now, the focus remains on the IAAF World Relays Bahamas 2014. Miller is embracing the opportunity to run in front of her home crowd again. The country awaits what is shaping up to be grand show right here on home soil.

 

 


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