When the MVP discussion comes up in pro sports, there’s always the debate about what the MVP award even means. Is it a purely individual award that should be given to the player who puts up the best stats, or should how that player boosts their teammates to collective success also factor into the equation?
While the team component isn’t relevant when we talk about track and field’s athlete of the year, it is worth laying out ground rules for what each of us looks for when determining the winner of the award.
For me, I look for absolute dominance in his or her event, and if possible, absolute dominance in multiple events. There was no Olympics or world championships in 2018, meaning we have to look at a wider swath of competitions rather than a singular meet to judge peak performance.
With those parameters set, my 2018 athlete of the year is the Bahamian sprint star Shaunae Miller-Uibo.
Miller-Uibo was undefeated in 2018, winning each of her nine 200 meter races and three 400 meter races.
In the 200m, her wins included a Commonwealth Games title and four wins at Diamond League races, including the Diamond League final in Brussels.
Miller-Uibo only competed in the 400m, normally her specialty event, three times this year, but one of those included the blistering fast Monaco race where she dueled with Salwa Eid Naser to set a personal best of 48.97 seconds, the fastest time run in nine seasons.
Miller-Uibo’s first sub-49 second 400m put her in elite company:
With that 48.97, @Hey_ItsShaunae becomes just the fifth woman in history with sub-22/49 200m & 400m PBs.
— Jon Mulkeen (@Statman_Jon) July 20, 2018
According to her IAAF profile, Miller-Uibo even won the freaking high jump (jumping 5 feet, 7 inches) and shot put (throwing 37 feet, 8 inches) at the Bahamian national championships in June. I’m still a little puzzled why she was competing in those events.
Regardless, those two (somewhat strange) results should seal the deal. Shaunae Miller-Uibo for athlete of the year.