Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo is currently the world’s pre-eminent female one-lap exponent. Here the Bahamian sprint superstar recalls her very first international experience, which provided the inspiration and motivation for her glittering future career.
“My favourite memory in track came as a ten-year-old competing at the CUT (Caribbean Union of Teachers) Games in Jamaica. There I ended up winning the overall championship for my division and, on reflection, that is the moment I started to fall in love with the sport.
“I started athletics from the age of six, but to be told just a week before I was due to compete in Jamaica was such an exciting memory. My dad delivered the news I would be going and I replied straight away, ‘okay, I’m ready!’
“It was the first time I competed outside of The Bahamas and it was an amazing feeling to be surrounded by a team of young athletes. It opened up a whole new world for me.
“In Kingston, I won the 100m and the 200m, finished second in the 400m and long jump and second to last in the softball throw. I was horrible at that event! I also vividly recall the 400m. I was beaten by a Jamaican girl by about 50 metres and I am still trying to figure out to this day who won that 400m.
“They didn’t award any individual medals at that meet but they handed out an overall award, which I won. I was a little shocked to receive it, and back then I found it all a bit embarrassing because I was so shy. But at the same time I was excited and it was nice to make my country, my team-mates and my family proud.
“I was so inspired I went home to my father and said, ‘I want to one day be a Golden Girl.’ I think they laughed at me at first, but that’s what I am now doing - representing my country at international events.
“I have always loved to compete. I’d compete at everything with my cousin from running races around the house to playing a board game. Once I realised I had a talent from track and field, I couldn’t wait to race. I remember as a younger person losing my very first 400m race and saying to my dad, ‘I have to go back and compete in the 400m again next week’. I was always so competitive.
“I’ve been fortunate to go and win world U18 and world U20 titles and more recently the Olympic gold but I don’t think anything quite matches that peak point of excitement of competing at the CUT Games. That is my favourite track memory.”
Steve Landells for the IAAF