Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller set personal bests in 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m in 2016. The Bahamian sprinter tells us why she's going all in in 2017.
Shaunae Miller opened her 2016 campaign in unorthodox fashion for a sprinter: with an 800m indoor race. She clocked a PB 2:12.68. What most sprinters would consider the worst punishment imaginable, Miller actually instigated herself.
“We used to do a few 800s when I was a little girl,” she recalls.
“I actually asked my coach to do it and he loved the idea, so we just got a little test out of it to get a bit of training in. It’s not an easy event, you have to do two laps, two-times the length of my event.
“It really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It was pretty fun. We’re looking forward to doing it again next year.”
400m is bae
In August, the 22-year-old showed how her endurance work had paid off. Miller took Olympic 400m gold in a world-leading PB 49.44, winning by 0.07 ahead of reigning world champion Allyson Felix with a dramatic dive across the line.
Miller also bossed shorter sprint events in 2016. In April she clocked 11.19 for 100m before recording a 22.05 national record over 200m in June.
“I know a lot of people are expecting me to say [I prefer] the 200m, but my favourite event is the 400m. The 200 is my baby, I do love the 200, but I love the 400 just a little bit more.
“It gives me a lot more time to focus on what I have to do during the race and it gives me a little more time to pick up speed. We’re working on a few things with the 200, but right now my favourite is still the 400m.”
Two course meal
Not many athletes attempt the 200m/400m double at major championships. Michael Johnson and Marie-José Pérec are the only athletes in history to have won titles in both events at the same championships. It’s no worry for Miller.
“Definitely,” she says when asked about competing over both distances at the 2017 London World Championships.
“We’re definitely looking to do it next year. It’s something on the menu, so we’re working hard towards it and hopefully it’ll work out for the best.”
Miller took gold in Rio, 0.07 seconds ahead of Allyson Felix
Better by half
Though doubling up will be a huge demand, Miller insists training for both distances will only work in her favour.
“I have both speed and strength that benefit towards the 400. You have a lot of sprint quartermilers and you have a lot of strength quartermilers, but I think I have a decent amount of both.
“The 200m is more of an event that helps me pick up my speed for the 400, so I know the quicker I get in the 200, the more it’ll benefit me in the 400.
“We’re not perfect yet. There’s still so many more things we’re working on; working on breathing, working on the finish, working on my start. So once we get those things in tact and perfect those things, I can only imagine the times we’re gonna put forward.”
Success breeds success
At the age of only 22, Miller has achieved what many don’t in a lifetime. In 2010 she won the World Junior (U20) title, a year later, and still only 17, she took the World Youth (U18) crown.
In 2013, competing in the 200m, she missed the podium by less than half a second, finishing fourth at the Moscow World Championships. Since then she has won medals at every global championships she has competed in.
Fuelled by her successes, Miller is not setting any limits on where her abilities can take her.
“My goal isn’t to be an Olympic champion or a world champion,” she says bluntly. “My goal is to be the best in the sport. Period.
“Every day I work towards that and I know I have a lot of people to pass on the way to the top, but I have a certain mindset to achieve that goal and that’s what motivates me every day.”