Allyson Felix became the most decorated female track athlete in United States history with a silver medal in the 400 meter, but a dive at the finish line by Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas kept Felix from gold.
The fall to the track for Miller was the finish to a personal best of 49.44 seconds in the event, just 0.07 seconds ahead of Felix’s time of 49.51. But the desperate move for gold has come under fire from many who question the fairness of an athlete leaving their feet to surge to the finish line.
There is no question of the legality of Miller’s dive. The rules say a runner can go to the ground across the finish line as long as he or she doesn’t impede another in the process. Even though Miller appeared to slightly cross into the lane to her left, it happened after the finish line and she didn’t impede any other runners.
Just a little earlier in the night, Joao Vitor de Oliveira of Brazil did a similar move in the 110-meter hurdles to barely qualify for the semifinals in the event. Still, many questioned the fairness of one runner staying on their feet to the finish and another lunging forward with a dive.
Many of the best track athletes in the world don’t have qualms with the strategy, though. U.S. Olympian Ariana Washington and former U.S. Olympian Lolo Jones both tweeted support for Miller’s dive.
Jones also noted that diving for the finish is a risky proposition – dive too soon and you’ll lose a step on the competition. But Miller timed it perfectly and it was a risk that paid off in gold for the Bahamian.