As It Happens

Why Perdita Felicien believes there's nothing wrong with the finish line dive

Former Olympic hurdler Perdita Felicien says Shaunae Miller didn't do anything wrong when she dove over finish the line and won the gold in the women's 400 metre sprint on Monday.
The photo finish clearly shows Shaunae Miller's torso over the finish line first. (CBC)

Shaunae Miller's gold medal win in the women's 400-metre on Monday has the internet up in arms.

Miller's lead began to evaporate in the last 30 metres of the race as track superstar Allyson Felix made her move toward the finish line. With the two runners sprinting neck in neck, Miller took what can only be called a leap of faith as her knees bucked and she dove for the finish line.

"We call it a dip," former Canadian track star, and CBC Olympics commentator, Perdita Felicien tells As It Happens guest host Laura Lynch. "She leaned so far that her knees and legs buckled and she out dips Allyson Felix."

Miller, of the Bahamas, set a personal best, winning in 49.44 seconds. Felix finished in 49.51, while Jamaica's Shericka Jackson won bronze in 49.85. It wasn't long before the the judges of the internet started to weigh in on the dive that won Olympic gold.

Bahamas' Shaunae Miller, left, beats United States' Allyson Felix, second right, to win the women's 400-meter final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeir. (Martin Meissner/AP)

Commentors couldn't believe that Miller had won a foot race by launching her torso over the finish line.

"I don't believe the fall was intentional. If you look closely, she's dipping," says Felicien. "They don't care where your head is, and they don't care where your feet are. They only care about your torso."

According to the rule book, this move is entirely legal, with some inside the sport saying the move is frowned upon, but Felicien says that's simply not true.  She says she has fallen across the line once or twice herself. 

The rule in question clearly states that the winner of the race is declared when any part of their torso crosses the finish line (CBC)

"Athletes fall at the line all the time in track and field. What she has done is not unique, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose."

Felicien says the people criticizing Miller on the internet simply don't understand the sport.

"I think they don't know anything about track and field. There's nothing in the rule book about how you get across the line. You could have Irish danced, she could somersault, she can moon walk, she happened to fall. Even if it was intentional, it wasn't against the rules."

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