Let’s Talk About Shaunae Miller’s Desperate Dive For Olympic Gold In The Women’s 400m

It was the splash heard ’round the world.

No, I’m not talking about Yona Knight-Wisdom’s amazing performance in the 3m springboard diving competition. I’m talking about Bahamian Shaunae Miller’s desperate lunge for the finish line in the women’s 400m to deny America’s Allyson Felix the gold medal.

This race was always going to be one for the books. The men’s 400m the night before was a display of sprinting perfection, as South Africa’s Wayde Van Niekerk obliterated Michael Johnson’s world record of 43.18 seconds, set in 1999, lowering it to a sizzling 43.03 seconds. He had perhaps taken it a little too easy in his semifinal and finished second, which placed him in the unfortunate lane 8. From there, it is impossible to see the rest of the field and gauge your opponents, so he did the only thing he could do — go 100 per cent Road Runner — and it paid off in golden, world record-smashing glory.

Shaunae, the fastest woman over the distance this year, had also coasted in her semifinal and found herself in lane 7 on the outside. Taking a page from Wayde’s playbook, she just pressed gas, but found herself tying up badly in the last 20m or so, allowing Felix to catch up. We’ll never know whether her dive across the finish line was a deliberate act or her tired, aching legs just said ‘NOPE!’ and momentum sent her falling forward at the most opportune moment, but that’s how the story went down.

Of course, this set off a firestorm across the social media sphere. Many people — and not just put-out Americans — were up in arms, declaring Shaunae a cheater and calling for her disqualification. Personally, I want to give the young lady the benefit of the doubt that she didn’t deliberately catch some air, because from my unlearned, inexperienced position, it looked like her legs just buckled and she fell over. Notice that she just lay there on the track, completely spent. She couldn’t even move. Whatever the case, I ain’t mad at her. Maybe I’m feeling magnanimous because she’s an island girl like me, and it was an American who was denied the gold (Jamaicans have no love for Americans when it comes to athletics. Sue us.) Maybe I’d be singing a totally different tune if Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson had been the one denied on the line. However, no matter what I feel, or how many Americans on Twitter call the Bahamas a third world den of poverty and ask if they even have internet, here’s how the cookie crumbled:

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