The premier track and field event last night was the women’s 400 meter final where Allyson Felix was attempting to be the first female track and field athlete to win 5 gold medals in one Olympics. That feat was foiled by a desperate dive over the finish line by Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas.
In a photo finish that was like something out of a Disney movie, Miller was leading the 400 meter race as Felix was closing in over the last 50 meters. Miller seemed to be slowing up and took longer strides at the end of the race. When the finish line was within a few yards, Miller dove headfirst and beat Felix by just a fraction of a second.
Several memes came out after Miller’s dive suggesting that she be better at other Olympic events instead of track and field. It appeared that the dive won Miller the race, but others were not so sure. Former Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson came to Miller’s defense tweeting; “Shaunae Miller’s dive was to recover from falling. Sprinters know the quickest way across the line is a well timed lean. Trust me on that.”
While it does appear that Miller was tripping just before her dive, it is hard to argue that the dive dd not help her win the gold. The key to winning a running race is to get your torso across the finish line first. With the headfirst dive, Miller was able to get her torso in front of the charging Felix and win the race by just fractions of a second.
If you watch the race in it’s entirety, as this reporter did when it aired live, you can see that Miller, who was in the lead, is slowing down and that Felix was charging late. The finish was close, but the dive did appear to be both deliberate and well timed and effective given the circumstances. It can’t be comfortable diving onto a track after running 400 meters as hard as you can. She gave up her body to injury in an effort to win gold and it worked. Congratulations to Miller!
Felix went on to receive silver and still collect her 7th olympic medal in total to become the most decorated female track and field athlete in history.