It wasn't Shaunae Miller's hands across the line that won the gold. It was the torso.
Miller's desperate dive in the final steps of the 400 meters on Monday night beat Allyson Felix by a dramatic seven one hundredths of a second, 49.44 to 49.51.
The reaction was immediate, and intense. After all, Miller of the Bahamas had denied gold to one of the USA's most beloved sprinters, who even so would become the most decorated American female track and field Olympian, with seven total medals.
The questions followed: Is that legal? And the condemnations: Diving isn't running!
Miller's dive, though the most recent and among the most dramatic, is far from the first. And it's perfectly legal.
The rules state only that the win is determined by which athlete has any part of her torso cross the line first. Miller could have come across the line in mid-air ... or on her hands and knees ... as long as the torso crossed first.
The photo finish showed the negative image of Miller’s sprawled out body, with her shoulder just barely over the line before Felix reached.
It certainly isn't the textbook approach. Coaches teach athletes to do just what Felix did: Run through the line, dipping shoulders and torso forward as you get there.
It wasn't a strategic move by Miller, but more one borne of desperation and drive.
“I don’t know what happened. My mind just went blank,” Miller said. “The only thing I was thinking (about) was the gold medal, and the next thing I know, I was on the ground.”
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