I recall seeing Shaunae-Miller Uibo, her husband, Estonian decathlete Maicel Uibo, and their newborn son traveling to Budapest. Maicle had one leg in a cast, juggling new babies, new baby things, and at least two airports. 

Shauna Miller-Uibo took gold in the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2021 at 400 meters in the Olympics. In 2015 Beijing, 2019 Doha, Shaunae took silver at the 400 meters and bronze at the 200 meters in the London 2017 World Champs.

In Budapest, I saw Shaunae in the rounds. She competed just 4 months after giving birth to their son. 

We also learned that after several years of working with Coach Lance Brauman, she no longer was working with the coach of the adidas PURE Athletics track club (the club with Noah Lyles, Wayde Van Niekerk, Gina Luckenkemper, and Josephus Lyles, among others). 

Stuart Weir wrote this piece about the changes in Shaunae’s life, and as she builds back to the top of the 400-meter/200-meter global elite pyramid, we wish her the best of luck. 

Shaunae-Miller Uibo

Shaunae Miller-Uibo ran three 400 meters races in 2023. In the World Championship 400m prelim in Budapest, she finished seventh in 52.65. In Zurich, at the Weltklasse, she clocked 51.83 to win the B race. At the Berlin ISAF, she did not finish. Her previous 400m had been on 20 August 2022, 49.40. Perversely, Shaunae competed in the Bahamian Championships in July 2023 in 100, 100h, High Jump Shot, and Javelin!

Shaunae Miller-Uibo and Maicel Uibo, photo from 2021, courtesy of Adidas communications

In 2016-2021, she won two Olympic Gold medals, and in the World Championships, she won gold, two silvers, and a bronze at 400m or 200m – not to mention winning 22 Diamond Leagues.

The thread that connects the two paragraphs above is that on April 20, 2023, she gave birth to a son.

I saw her races in Budapest and Zurich last year and spoke to her after both races. My abiding memory is of her being exhausted to the point of nausea, sitting on the floor in the mixed zone before rising to fulfill her media obligations.

In Budapest – just four months after she had given birth –  when she finished seventh, I remember wondering how she would cope with being in a race on a big stage yet not be competitive. That must be a challenging experience. I was in the mixed zone as she came through. Would she rush past everyone, avoiding difficult questions? Not at all. She spoke to anyone who wanted to talk to her, answering all their questions. She spotted me and stopped for a quick greeting.

She said: “I feel proud. I gave birth four months ago. I was training hard only for the past two weeks, so coming here and running 52 seconds feels awesome. I came to defend my title and have some fun before starting preparations for next year. I love to compete, and competing at the world championships is always inspiring. My son is watching from the tribune right now. I just love being a mum. My son is amazing; he is always smiling. I cannot wait to see him. He gives me strength, and he is my inspiration. I am definitely looking forward to Paris”.

Shaunae Miller-Uibo, World Athletics Championships
Budapest, Hungary
August 19-27, 2023, photo by Kevin Morris

In Zurich, she started her comments as she often does with a reference to her deep Christian faith: “I just give God praise that I can come here run and be healthy. Life has changed totally, but for the better, I’m very blessed to help my baby. I’m taking training slowly, just getting the body used to running again and planning for next season. But I’m enjoying it”.

When I asked her about finding herself in the pre-program B race, she dismissed the question with a “just happy to be getting used to running again. I don’t want any big races just now”.

She talked more about motherhood than about running in her interviews – and why not? She spoke about how  Nia Ali and Valerie Adams had inspired her. “I just love being a mum. Motherhood is hard, but I love it so much. I wouldn’t give it up for the world. I’ve been having so much fun with my son. I feel like he’s teaching me just to be a better person overall. He’s been laughing and talking so much and just always putting a smile on my face”.

Shaunae Miller-Uibo smiles after her gold medal performance at 400 meters, WC Eugene 2022,  photo by Kevin Morris.

Her characteristic graciousness and solid Christian faith also came through in her interview: “I just give God thanks and praise just for allowing me to finish the day healthy. I thank God so much for a healthy pregnancy and giving birth to a healthy son”.

She also had a message for all moms: “Know that you will be back – no matter how long it takes you. Some of us have different timelines in. It all depends on your body and how quickly things can return and turn around, but the main focus is knowing you will be back”.

I will give you a prediction. When the big races come around in 2024, Shaunae will be there and in the medals.