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Updated: Miller Reflects On Thrilling 400m Final

http://youtu.be/ZrBsi1hs4bw

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Shaunae Miller on the ground after winning the 400m final. (AP)

By BRENT STUBBS

Senior Sports Reporter

bstubbs@tribunemedia.net

RIO de Janeiro, Brazil — With the bruises and bumps to show, Bahamian Shaunae Miller said the dive across the finish line at the Olympic Stadium was worth the gold she will receive for the Bahamian people.

Miller, 22, emerged as the 2016 Olympic Games women’s 400 metre champion, clocking a personal best of 49.44 seconds to hold off a late surge by American Allyson Felix in the epic rematch between the two gladiators on the world’s biggest stage last night.

Felix was hoping for her second straight major victory over Miller but it was not meant to be.

In similar fashion to last year when Felix pulled away and snatched the gold at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China, Miller duplicated the feat, turning the tables on Felix, who didn’t have enough real estate and had to settle for the silver in a season’s best of 49.51.

And in a rematch of last year’s final, Jamaican Shericka Jackson picked up another bronze in 49.85. The only difference was the two medals switched places at the top and Miller used her 6-foot, 1-inch frame to return the favour to Felix.

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Shaunae Miller dives across the finish line. (AP)

“Before we started the race, the last thing my coaches said was just give me your all and we will be satisfied with that,” said Miller, who had lost out again to Felix in a semi-final showdown the night before as the American came from behind and pulled away for the win.

“Before I went into the blocks, I said ‘God, I’m leaving this in your hands, I’m going to execute my race and however I finish, I know that God is going to help me'. He did. I know everybody is talking about the dive or the fall. But I don’t know what happened. My mind just went blank and the next thing I know I was on the ground.”

It was the first final for athletics at these games as Miller became just the second Bahamian to achieve the Olympic feat, joining national record holder Tonique Williams-Darling, who set the stage in Athens, Greece, when she ascended the podium. Williams then won the gold again at the IAAF World Championships in Helsinki, Finland.

During the race, Miller got out to a comfortable lead in lane seven. But on the back stretch, she was challenged by American Natasha Hastings in four, who pulled up beside her. But she shook that off going through the final curve.

Off the bend, Miller was again in total control of the race. This time, Felix tried to reel her in. She managed to close the gap at the end, but Miller had one surprise for her. She didn’t run through the line or try to nip her. Instead, she must have gotten some pointers from three-time Olympic swimmer Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace before she left on Sunday, as she dove across the line.

“I saw Allyson the last 20 metres of the race and then my mind just blanked after that,” Miller stressed. “The only thing I was thinking about was the gold medal. I was on the ground and I heard my mother (Maybelene Miller, who was near the finish line) screeching, so I knew I must have gotten the gold.

“But I’m just so thankful right now.”

That put the Bahamas in a five-way tie for 45th place on the medal standings with Fiji, Kosovo, Puerto Rico and Sinapore as the United States continues to control the leaderboard.

While she will waits for tonight to hear the national anthem played and the Bahamian flag raised during the medal presentation, Miller said she’s going to wait until her fiancé Maicel Uibo from Estonia is done competing in the men’s decathlon before the celebrations begin.

She will be sharing the moment with her parents, including Shaun Miller, who is an assistant coach on the team, and Uibo’s mother, who is also here, before she looks towards coming home for whatever is planned for her to share the experience with the Bahamian people.

In the meantime, Miller said she’s just going to enjoy being called an “Olympic champion".

It’s her first global medal since silver in the World Championship last year after claiming the bronze from the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot in 2014.

The back-to-back 2010 IAAF World Junior Championship and 2011 IAAF World Youth Championship champion recovered from her disappointment four years ago when she wasn’t able to complete in the preliminaries of the women’s 400m in her Olympic debut, coming off the first turn with a slight hamstring injury.

Monday night, there was nothing that was going to stop her, not even Felix, who stunned her in the semi-final the day before. The night belonged to Shaunae Miller, even if she had to add a little of another sport. She will recover from the cuts and bruises as Olympic champion.

The only thing that Miller didn’t do was break Williams’ Bahamian national record of 49.07 that she established on September 12, 2004 in Berlin, Germany. She said that she will take on that feat next year as she pursues her first medal at the IAAF World Championships in Tokyo, Japan.

Comments

MassExodus 5 years, 3 months ago

Finally some exciting news in our country! Congrats Shaunae!!!

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John 5 years, 3 months ago

Congratulations Shaunae Miller

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Socrates 5 years, 3 months ago

fantastic job by Miller! I'm sure there will be sour grapes from some of her peers on the US side, but she won the race.. Finish.. Bahamas gold...

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Greentea 5 years, 3 months ago

Shaune Miller! What a gutsy win. Loved seeing that kind of will and determination in action. she decided she wasn't losing and she would not be denied the win, Congratulations!! 242 all day! Shut up Americans- yall have a short memory. 2008 David Neville dived to the finish line to snatch the bronze from our Boy Chris Brown. Today was our day. Bahamians dive for GOLD! bam! bam!

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MassExodus 5 years, 3 months ago

What Shaunae Miller did last night was not only win the Olympic Gold in the 400 with, in my opinion the closest and greatest finish to an Olympic race, but she also defeated the most decorated female USA track athlete of all time. A MONUMENTOUS moment for Shaunae Miller and the Bahamas.

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Islandboy242242 5 years, 3 months ago

Congrats Shaunae Miller awesome job and display of determination #diveforgold

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alfalfa 5 years, 3 months ago

Well done Shaunae. Your country is proud of you.

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Honestman 5 years, 3 months ago

Congratulations to Shaunae on running the race of her life and bringing home the gold medal. Fantastic performance. Yet another golden girl!

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DEDDIE 5 years, 3 months ago

By all mains necessary. Congratulations!

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SP 5 years, 3 months ago

.. Allyson Felix Now Fully Understands The Meaning Of "Vell Mudda Sic!"..

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Alex_Charles 5 years, 3 months ago

Ignore the sour grapes, they told us to get over a dive in 2008. Now it's our turn to take their salty tears and season the conch that Shaunae was diving for when she got gold. Congrats and make us proud!

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 3 months ago

Hmmm...I'd prefer a clean win. It felt like the wind was knocked out of me when she dove. But congratulations anyway!! I think back 25 years when it was almost unheard of to see a Bahamian in the Olympics, now we have all kinds of persons qualifying and doing well. I look with amazement at Shavez Hart two steps behind the great Usain Bolt. The Bahamas has lots to be proud of.

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My2cents 5 years, 3 months ago

It actually looked like she tried to lean in in order to get ahead of Felix, but she was too far from the finish line and couldn't recover. It was either propel forward or suffer a clumsy fall, and no medal. Even Michael Johnson, and a couple of other sprinters said it was not intention. Either way, it was a good race and she came out the winner.

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jackbnimble 5 years, 3 months ago

I must have screamed all my lungs out last night. Giri Shaunae I am soooooo proud of. you!! Some things are just worth being a Bahamian for and this is one of them! Congratulations!!!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 5 years, 3 months ago

Track coaches and trainers will now be preparing their sprinters and other short distance runners for the use of the "diving-to-win" technique in close races. This will add a whole new dimension to competitive sprinting and short distance running events. Over the years we have seen revolutionary changes in the methods used to win in other sporting events, e.g. back roll technique replacing the western roll technique in the high jump event and staying under water as long as possible immediately after lap turns in swimming events. Using the "diving-to-win" technique at the finish line will be dangerous for track athletes though until such time that the sport softens (cushions) the track immediately after the finish line and introduces certain rules to ensure the technique is safely used. The Bahamas (Shaunae Miller) can lay claim to having perfected the technique (albeit unwittingly) to win gold in the 2016 Olympic Games women's 400 metre event. Alternatively, this new and proven "diving-to-win" technique could be banned altogether in which case the rules should make it absolutely clear that winning can only be accomplished in a controlled run where the sprinter or short distance runner maintains full control of the moving forward cycling motion of their feet as they cross the finish line.

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Reality_Check 5 years, 3 months ago

Precisely put! It's painfully obvious whose feet crossed the finish line first in a controlled running motion and therefore it's quite understandable why Allyson Felix, who clearly had the fastest feet in the 2016 Olympic Games women's 400 meter event, should feel so disappointed along with most of her very many fans. No one likes to feel they have somehow been gypped!

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TalRussell 5 years, 3 months ago

Comrade Reality-Check, first foot to cross the finish line does not count for a win, the upper body must cross to even place in the race. Regardless, our Shaunae brungs home we gold medal and she did it legally according to Olympic rules, cause you know the American would have protested if not the case. Is it controversial, of course it is and extremely dangerous to your neck to even attempt.

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Cas0072 5 years, 3 months ago

But coaches are already encouraging their runners to do this when their bodies give out and they are thisclose to the line. Most professional runners that have commented have stated this. They are also saying that this method also slows the runner down, and that makes sense. Not to mention the fact that they would be gambling with serious injuries. For all of these reasons, I highly doubt that athletes will be coached into making diving finishes.

This provision was instituted for a reason, probably due to someone outstretching an arm, leg, or finger and claiming victory. These things will happen and not always in the US favor as in 2008. They need to get over it.

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Reality_Check 5 years, 3 months ago

You really need to get over 2008. Two wrongs never make a right. And besides, a controlled "dive-to-win" with perfected technique at the right moment in the right zone immediately before the finish line could easily become the more common (and, yes, faster) way of completing a race. You cannot deny though that many believe any running race should be won by the track athlete with the fastest legs and feet as opposed to other parts of the body crossing the finish line first. Even taller athletes with longer torsos and exceptionally long arms should be made to win the race with their legs and feet as opposed to some other part of their body.

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Cas0072 5 years, 3 months ago

@Reality_Check I was over 2008 in 2008, but it is a natural comparison to make. The rules were clarified then, a victor was declared, and those same rules have been maintained. Nothing is stopping runners from doing that now, so it is illogical to say that this one race will start a trend. A trend of slowing down to "perfect" one's dive to the finish line? If a person has those many seconds and that much energy to spare, they are better off just running the whole race. As long as the same rules are maintained, it is what it is.

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Reality_Check 5 years, 3 months ago

I never said anything about "slowing down" but rather perfecting the current lunge in a close race to an all out "dive-to-win" with, as Mudda_take_sic suggests, some softening of the track immediately after the finish line to mitigate possible injuries. As for "it is what it is", me thinks it should never be what it truly isn't.

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Cas0072 5 years, 3 months ago

Many in the track and field world concur that diving slows a runner's pace, and here you are talking about perfecting a running dive to the finish line. If the rule is torso first, then those are the rules as determined by the governing bodies of track and field. So yeah, it is what it is and not what fair weather fans believe it should be. Until I see diving finishes on the upswing, I will call this trend unlikely.

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Honestman 5 years, 3 months ago

I don't think Shaunae deliberately dived to get over the line (but if she did it is still perfectly legal as the rules stand). Personally, I think she became slightly imbalanced looking left to see where her opponent was and also was just completely whacked. It would be a shame if a rule change meant that a distance runner runs a great race, stumbles or dives over the line through exhaustion and is then disqualified. Maybe not the most graceful finish but she won by the rules. I hope everyone gets off her case and salutes her for running a tremendous race.

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Reality_Check 5 years, 3 months ago

As one journalist put it: "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." We can be rest assured though that the rules will be re-visited in this matter, and rightfully so for the reasons given above by Mudda_take_sic. "Diving-to-win" at all costs at the finish line is becoming all too frequent notwithstanding the dangers it presents to the diving athlete and competing athletes in adjacent lanes.

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SP 5 years, 3 months ago

.... Gymnast have moves named after them. Now we have the "Shaunae Miller Dive"! ....

After 43 years of dealing with massive political stupidity, leave it to a long suffering, innovative Bahamian to FIND a way to achieve a goal!

Actually, in the photo finish it appears more than likely that Shaunae was attempting a premature forward lean and lost her footing. I could not detect any evidence she intentionally propelled herself or purposely "dove" across the finish line.

In any case, she won the gold, and thats what really matters.

Many congratulations to Shaunae Miller. Well done!!!

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Victor 5 years, 3 months ago

It's important to remember that Pauline Davis-Thompson won gold in 2000 in the 200M. She was not awarded it at the time because the cheating Marion Jones initially was given it, but this wrong was eventually righted and Pauline was given the gold that she earned.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 5 years, 3 months ago

The irrefutable facts here are easy to understand:

1) Miller won the Gold under the current rules, i.e her torso was first to cross the finish line, and all Bahamians should be proud of her "dive-to-win" at all costs effort.

2) Felix "ran" the faster race from the stand point of her legs and feet crossing the finish line first with full control of the forward cycling motion of her legs and feet.

3) The current rule of "first torso to cross the finish line" exists only because at one time runners had to actually run through a winning tape that spanned across the finish line.

4) Sprinters and other short distance runners start their race the instant their trailing foot leaves the starting block; it therefore stands to reason in the minds of many today that the race should be won by the runner whose forward foot crosses the finish line first.

5) Notwithstanding the very reasonable reasoning in 4) above, the track world remains reluctant to change the "torso rule" to a "forward foot rule" simply because there is no real way of re-calibrating the historical winning times for comparison purposes and all future winning times would be longer across all races.

6) Coaches and trainers naturally train their track stars to give it their all, endure as much pain as possible and have a win at all costs mindset.

7) A dive at the finish line at the right moment in a close race (whether deliberate or unintentional) clearly could make the difference between winning and placing.

8) Unless the current "torso rule" is changed, and because of 6) and 7) above, coaches and trainers will be working more than ever with their track stars in an effort to perfect their "dive-to-win" technique in the right circumstances; hence we can all expect to see more use of the "dive-to-win" in close races.

9) Because of 8) above and the inherent possibility of serious injury, the track world would be wise to either change the "torso rule" to a "forward foot rule" or place a well cushioned mat immediately after the finish line shortly before the winning runner crosses it.

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Reality_Check 5 years, 3 months ago

By now both Miller and Felix have repeatedly seen video and photos of their finish of the women's 400m from just about every possible angle. They both know who had the fastest "run" time in that race and Felix seems to be comforted by that simple fact.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 5 years, 3 months ago

But a time saving "dive", whether deliberate or unintentional, counts under the current rules so Miller rightfully won the gold.

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jackbnimble 5 years, 3 months ago

Looka here. Whether she fell, dived, ran through, jumped or crawled; whether it was planned, intentional or her legs gave out and she just happened to fall over the finish line before the American, it doesn't matter. What matters is that it was a LEGAL win according to the OLYMPIC RULES. Some people really need to make google their friend and use it more often. Haters gonna hate but she won the gold. Full Stop! #PROUDTOBEBAHAMIAN

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