Last week, we published Part 1 of our series on the Top 10 World Female Sprinters in 2019. We now bring the concluding part of the series which features our Top 5 female sprinters who shone this season and set several records in the process. The list goes as follows:
- Shaunae Miller-Uibo (BAH)
Coming from a country that boasts of a rich heritage of accomplished female sprinters like Pauline Davis-Thompson, Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie and Tonique Williams-Darling among others, Shaunae Miller-Uibo is doing a great job of keeping the flag flying in both the 200m and 400m respectively.
The 25-year old remained undefeated across both disciplines since the 2017 Muller Grand Prix, until the final of the women’s 400m at the World Championships in Doha where she was beaten to GOLD by Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser who clocked the third fastest time in history. That notwithstanding, Miller-Uibo still came out of that race with a Personal Best (PB), National Record (NR) and Area Record (AR) of 48.37s, which puts her in sixth position on the all-time list.
Prior to the World Championships, the Bahamian ran four 200m races and three in the 400m, dominating every single one of them. She also stormed to World Best in the 300m in Ostrava, clocking a brilliant 34.41s in the process.
Miller-Uibo’s first 200m race this season was at the Gyulai István Memorial Hungarian Grand Prix where she clocked a Season’s Best (SB) of 22.18s. Three days later she was at the Monaco Diamond League (DL) where she lowered her time to 22.08s, and then at the Müller Grand Prix in Birmingham the following month, she took the victory with a time of 22.24s.
She opted for the 200m at the DL Final in Zurich where she was outstanding, stretching away from the rest of the field to set a World Lead (WL), NR and Diamond League Record (DLR) of 21.74s to finish ahead of Dina Asher-Smith and Elaine Thompson.
Her 400m races were at the Tom Jones Memorial where she set a WL of 49.05s, the Racers Grand Prix in Jamaica which she won in 49.54s, and the Bahamas Championships where she returned a time of 49.59s to retain her title.
Many would have loved to see Miller-Uibo combine the 200m/400m in Doha, but the schedule did not allow for it. She said at the time, “It was a little bit disappointing, but it is what it is. The main thing is to get the title; I don’t really care how fast the time is.”
The reigning Olympic Champion in the 400m came to Doha as the favourite for GOLD and won her heat and semifinal races. However, she was upstaged by Eid Naser in the final as the latter clocked a stunning 48.14s.
“I think I let it get away from me a little bit too much on the curve, but I was able to come home a little bit stronger. I used my strength in the home straight. I can’t complain about 48.3. I’ve trained really hard this season and I feel in great shape. To run a big PB is really impressive so I’m very happy with it.”
It wasn’t a bad performance at all from the former World Junior Champion whose husband – Maicel Uibo also clinched Silver in the Decathlon. There are also indications that Miller-Uibo may want to try out the Heptathlon soon. She says: “I want to try it at least once before I’m done with the sport. We’re not going to close the door on that one yet.”
- Dina Asher-Smith (GBR)
The athlete occupying the No.4 spot on our list is Great Britain’s jewel of inestimable value – Dina Asher-Smith, who sped her way into the country’s history books by becoming their first ever (male or female) athlete to win three medals at a single World Championships, and the first British female to win a global sprint title!
She says, “It’s something I’ve dreamed about – it’s a pipe dream I had when I was a little girl when I started running when I was about eight years old. And to run two personal bests at this competition and one of the six fastest races in history definitely means a lot to me.”
The 24-year old opened her season at the Doha DL where she won the 200m with a then SB of 22.26s. Her only other DL victory in the 200m was in Stockholm where she clocked 22.16s to win the event. She had three 2nd place finishes in the 100m in the DL in Rome, Lausanne and London respectively, then coasted to victory in Birmingham with a time of 10.96s.
Dina – short for Geraldina – claimed her first DL trophy when she laid down the gauntlet ahead of the World Championships, storming to an SB of 10.88s to beat world leader Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Marie-Josée Ta Lou respectively. She went all out in the 200m at the DL final in Zurich, and although Shaunae Miller-Uibo eventually won the race in a WL, NR and DLR of 21.74s, the Briton had nothing to be ashamed of, coming 2nd in 22.08s.
She looked so good coming into the World Championships and was favoured to win the 200m, especially in the absence of Miller-Uibo who had opted for the 400m. But first there was the 100m to conquer! The reigning European Champion won her heat in 10.96s, then bettered her mark to 10.87s to win her semifinal race. She was quick out of the blocks in the final and was rewarded with an NR of 10.83s to claim Silver behind Fraser-Pryce.
Asher-Smith then moved on to the 200m. Once again, she dominated her heat and semifinal race, poised for the final where she was banking to claim her first world title. She went out firing on all cylinders at the sound of the gun as she quickly dominated the first 100m, before completing the job in the final 100m to cross the line in 21.88s, taking 0.01s off her previous NR! Her winning time was fast enough to have won 13 of the 17 World Championships.
“I can’t believe that Great Britain has not had a 200m World Champion; I didn’t know that before the race. I’ve stayed off social media, so I haven’t really been aware. It means so much; as a nation we’ve got such an illustrious history in Track and Field, but to be able to be part of that means a lot”, she said afterwards.
Not done with winning medals, Asher-Smith ran a spectacular second leg to help Great Britain retain the Silver they won in London, finishing 2nd to Jamaica and ahead of the USA. Having claimed two individual medals in Doha, Asher-Smith will now aim to do same in Tokyo next year.
- Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (JAM)
It was a comeback year for Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and what a comeback she had, outclassing a strong field to claim a fourth world title in the women’s 100m, 10 years after winning her first 100m World Championships crown in Berlin! It was also her overall eighth GOLD medal at the Worlds.
It was an extremely busy season for the two-time Olympic 100m Champion who competed in at least 15 100m races and six 200m races. She also proved an invaluable asset for Jamaica in the women’s 4x100m as she led the team to victories at the Penn Relays, Müller Anniversary Games and the World Championships in Doha, taking her tally of World titles to nine.
Having missed the 2017 World Champs in London as she took time off the track to have a baby – Zyon, Fraser-Pryce returned to action this year at the Grenada Invitational in April where she took the win in a then SB of 11.20s. she also competed at the JAAA All-Comers win where she returned a time of 10.97s, then improved on her time to win 10.88s to win the Racers Grand Prix.
At the Jamaican Championships, Fraser-Pryce finished 2nd to current Olympic Champion Elaine Thompson as both ran a WL of 10.73s. As such, her time was classified as the fastest non-winning time in history. She also finished 2nd to Thompson in the 200m, clocking a time of 22.22s.
She won the 100m at the Lausanne and London DLs, racing to impressive times of 10.74s and 10.78s respectively. She raced over the 200m at the Birmingham DL and settled for 3rd place with a time of 22.50s. At the DL Final in Brussels, the 2008/2012 Olympic Champion stormed to 2nd place in a time of 10.95s. She only opted for the 200m at the Pan American Games and took GOLD with a time of 22.43s.
She was simply unstoppable at the World Championships as she easily won her heat and semifinal races in 10.80s and 10.81s respectively. Known for her bullet start, Fraser-Pryce took off in the final and established her dominance about 30m into the start of the race, and sped down the track to stop the clock in a stunning 10.71s – the exact time with which she won her second world title in Moscow, and within 0.01 of her lifetime best.
She becomes the oldest woman to win a 100m World or Olympic title. She also becomes the first athlete in history, male or female, to win four GOLD medals in the 100m at the World Championships. She said: “Today I’m happy I actually came away with the victory. Being away, I didn’t get the chance to defend my title in 2017 and here I am two years later.
“Zyon has been my source of strength and my inspiration and I continue to work hard for him. Together we have defied logic you know, coming back from having a baby and being 32, it’s definitely different but I’m happy that I had that experience and it made me tougher and stronger as an athlete.”
A week later, Fraser-Pryce ran a fantastic second leg to help Jamaica win GOLD in the women’s 4x100m ahead of USA and Great Britain. With two GOLD medals from the Olympics and six Olympic medals in total, nine World Championships titles over the 100m, 200m and 4x100m and 11 World Championships medals in total, many are already considering Fraser-Pryce the greatest female sprinter of all.
One thing is certain: Mummy Rocket will be looking forward to increasing her medal haul in Tokyo and will say to her rivals, “Stop me if you can”.
- Salwa Eid Naser (BRN)
She pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the 2019 World Championships when she stunned the tournament favourite to win the women’s 400m GOLD! Salwa Eid Naser’s transition from one of the major contenders in the 400m, to becoming the third fastest woman in the history of the event, is one occurence that bookmakers are still trying to wrap their heads around.
The Nigerian-born quartermiler has become an enigma – what’s left to say about an athlete that won five medals – four of them GOLD, within a space of four days? Because that was exactly what Naser achieved at the 2019 Asian Championships back in April where she won the 200m (22.74s), 400m (51.34s), 4x400m (3:32.10) and Mixed 4x400m (3:15.75), before settling for Bronze in the 4x100m (43.61s). This was two weeks after winning the 400m at the Arab Championships with a time of 52.72s.
Sometime in June, the Bahraini athlete set a new PB of 11.24s in the 100m while racing at the Memorial Carlos Gil Pérez in Spain, and then clocked a new lifetime best of 22.51s at the Prefontaine Classic where she finished in 4th place.
Salwa was unbeaten in 14 of her 15 400m races this year! She virtually dominated all her DL races in Shanghai (50.65s), Rome (50.26s) and Rabat (50.13s). Her performance at the Lausanne DL was particularly striking as she had to contend with Niger Republic’s Aminatou Seyni who almost pulled off an upset, chasing Naser all the way down to the line where the latter escaped with a Meeting Record (MR) of 49.17s as Seyni clocked an NR of 49.19s.
Naser extended her dominance to the DL Final in Zurich where she was unstoppable as she clinched the trophy with a time of 50.24s. All through the season, she had managed to avoid the reigning Olympic Champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo, but a clash was imminent at the World Championships even as the latter was coming to Doha with the fastest time in the world at the time – 48.97s.
Naser had to first compete in the Mixed 4x400m where she ran monstrous legs in the heat and final, playing a vital role in Bahrain’s Bronze medal-winning feat with an NR of 43.61s. Many felt that her participation in the Mixed 4x400m would tell on her performance in the 400m where she had settled for Silver in London two years ago. And so, the expectation was that the 2015 World Youth Champion would at best retain that position in Doha.
But then Salwa isn’t just anybody. She looked comfortable in her heat which she won with 50.74s, and then moved things a notch higher in the semis, storming to a time of 49.79s to win her race. At this point, it became clear that Miller-Uibo had a fight on her hands, and that the women’s 400m final was going to be a two-horse race. However, only very few would have predicted that the race would turn out to be as historic as it did.
Drawn in Lane 5 while Miller-Uibo was in Lane 7, both athletes were quick out of the blocks but by the end of the back straight, Salwa had taken the lead. Unlike before, it was the Bahamian that did the chasing as the roles were reversed. The Olympic Champion began to catch up with 10m to go but Naser did not give up ground, eventually stopping the clock at an astonishing 48.14s, the third fastest time in history and the fastest time in the world in 34 years!
Even Naser could hardly believe her good fortune as she stared at the screen, mouth agape as she tried to come to terms with all that had just unfolded. To underline the swift nature of the race, the Top 5 athletes all sped to PBs – a stunned Miller-Uibo was rewarded with an NR of 48.37s while Shericka Jackson (49.47s), Wadeline Jonathas (49.60s) and Phyllis Francis (49.61s) were inspired to lifetime bests as well.
Naser ended her season at the World Military Games, recording her only defeat of the season in the 400m heats where she finished 2nd in 52.44s, before going on to take the title in 50.15s. With the heroics that played out in Doha, the women’s 400m will be one of the most anticipated events in 2020!
- Dalilah Muhammad (USA)
Our No.1 World Female Sprinter in 2019 is none other than USA’s Dalilah Muhammad who set two World Records (WR) in the 400m Hurdles in the course of the year. And having twice finished 2nd at the World Champs in 2013 and 2017 respectively, 2019 was the year Muhammad stepped up to win GOLD in her specialist event to add the title to her Olympic crown.
Before opening her season in the 400m Hurdles, Muhammad competed in a couple of 400m races, and eventually set a PB of 50.60s to win the event at the ORLEN Memoriał Janusza Kusocińskiego Meet in Poland.
She enjoyed an outstanding DL campaign, taking wins at the Doha and Rome legs of the series where she clocked 53.61s and 53.67s respectively, as well as the Seiko Grand Prix in Osaka which she won with 53.88s. However, her teammate and rival Sydney Mclaughlin edged Muhammad (54.35s) to take the victory at the Oslo DL with a time of 54.16s.
However, less than two weeks to the US Championships, Muhammad suffered a freak accident when she fell head-first onto the track during some drills, leading to doubts as to whether or not she would be fit enough to fight for a place to the World Championships.
She said, “I bumped my head pretty hard, but I jumped right back up. I just walked into the bathroom and I looked at myself in the mirror. My coach came in there with me, asking, ‘Are you ok?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’m fine.’ But the second I stepped back out into the light, I had absolutely no idea where I was. I was asking him and my training partners, ‘Where are we?’ And at that point they knew something was clearly wrong.”
She was diagnosed with a mild concussion and was able to recover in time for the USATF Trials where she was in a class all by herself, storming to a WR of 52.20s under wet conditions to eclipse Yulia Pechonkina’s former mark of 52.34s and claim her fourth national title! She had another face-off with teammate Sydney Mclaughlin at the DL final in Zurich but this time around, it was McLaughlin who emerged tops in the battle for superiority as Muhammad settled for 3rd place in 54.13s.
Nevertheless, heading into the World Championships, Muhammad was regarded as the woman to beat in the event, which was one of the most anticipated of the championship. She easily outclassed her rivals in Heat 3 to take the victory in 54.87s. The story wasn’t very different in the semis where she once again upstaged the rest of the field to win with a time of 53.91s.
When asked if she expected the final to produce another WR, Muhammad didn’t give too much away. She said, “It’s been a long season, but it’s been a steady season. I’ve had some times. I’m ready and I’m here. Running the WR is something I’ve always wanted to do since running a little bit close to that time, and to have it come true means so much. I think I’m proud of myself and the hard work I’ve put in, and to have that kind of hard work pay off really means a lot. There’s talk of a WR, I don’t know, we will see; I definitely think it will be a fast race.”
The 2007 World U-18 Champion executed a perfect race, taking the lead from the very start to hold off the threat posed by her younger compatriot who was hot on her heels. This pushed Muhammad to another WR as the clock stopped at 52.16s, 0.07s faster than Mclaughlin who became the second fastest on the all-time list. Muhammad was then drafted into the US team for the women’s 4x400m final where she ran a split of 49.43 on the third leg as the team struck GOLD with a WL of 3:18.92.
So spectacular was Muhammad’s performance this season that she was named the US Female Athlete of the Year as well as the World Female Athlete of the Year. There’s no telling how fast she will run next year as she aims to successfully defend her Olympic title.