Shaunae Miller’s diving finish in Monday’s 400-meter run at the Olympics drew groans of protest, mostly from American fans. They complained it wasn’t legal, but it was. They insisted it wasn’t sporting of the runner from the Bahamas. I disagree.
It’s a race. She won within the rules.
Upon first look, it appeared to me a purposeful dive. As I watched several more times, I began thinking it was just what her coach said — she lost strength and pitched forward. Then I remembered a dive of my own.
In high school, I was a 440-yard runner. One day at practice I was going down the stretch, neck-and-neck against a teammate, when my legs started to give. As I neared the finish line, I stumbled and lunged, trying to keep my balance, then fell. A teammate passed me to win. I ended up sitting on the ground, not unlike American runner Allyson Felix after taking silver on Monday. One of my track friends said, “What happened?”
My coach said, “Oh, Rock just decided to take a dive.”
I said, “Shut up!”
The coach looked at me and grinned. I stared at him, my chest heaving. He shrugged it off. Maybe he shouldn’t have said anything, but I should have been suspended or dismissed for insubordination. I was hotheaded and mad at myself.
Anyway, I know the feeling at the end of 400 meters. It’s a brutal race. I think Miller felt her legs go and dived as she fell.
I’m fine with that.
Meanwhile, I have renewed respect for the two Olympians. Not only did they put on a world-class race, but they managed not to tell anyone to shut up.