It is Saturday morning, August 20, and I am sitting on my bed in my little AirBnB, right across the street from the Engenhao Stadium. With my brother, Brian, and Victor Sailer, I have been here for the duration. This morning, I am catching up.
So, this is my piece on the women’s 400 meters, one of the finest races of the entire Olympic experience, which was marred, for me, by Americans thinking that somehow, the gold medal was taken from Allyson Felix. Shaunae Miller took the gold, because, this time, she got across the finish line first. That is what it is like in all races. Olympic track & field is not a theatre project, where one knows the outcome and it is the interpretation of the experience. It is not professional wrestling, where the outcome is preordained. These are real athletes, who put their regular lives on hold, so that, for a decade or so of their lives, they, run, jump and throw to see just how far they can go!
I as sitting in the radio booth for BBC5 Live for both the men’s 800 meters and women’s 400 meters. Amazing viewing and amazing view of how live radio, which is on both sessions, and how hard they work. But, we all saw a fantastic race, and eight excellent athletes focused on the same goal: winning the 400 meters.
Ironically, Lance Braumann, the coach of Shaunae Miller had told me in March that I needed to watch the young runner this year, because she was the real thing and she would perform well this year. Lance is one of those guys, that you listen too. It was like in Eugene, just before the 400 meter final, I saw Bobby Kersee and asked, how Allyson was. He smiled and gave me a thumbs up sign.
Shaunae MIller leaps by Allyson Felix!
All eyes were on Allyson Felix. But, I should have listened to Coach Lance Brauman, coach of Tori Bowie, that Shaunae Miller was the real thing.
Allyson Felix came out strong, but poised. Shaunae Miller came out hard, with Natasha Hastings breathing down her back. Off the 300 meter mark, Allyson Felix came up on Shaunae Miller, and looked to be able to pass her with ten meters to go, but Shaunae leant, the leaped or fell at the line, I do not what what precisely happened. The movement gave her the advantage and , with a PB of 49.44 to boot, Shaunae Miller won the gold medal. Allyson Felix was silver in 49.51m, looking a bit stunned, and Shericka Jackson, 4985 took the bronze.
All there had run themselves into exhaustion, in one of the finest races I have ever seen. In retrospect, I believe that Allyson Felix gave Shaunae Miller too much real estate, and Shaunae Miller, running her race, capitalized on that.
Then, there is the leap, lean or fall.
Here’s the truth. Allyson Felix and Shaunae Miller are two of the finest athletes in our sport. They gave it their all in the 400 meters, hence, they were on the ground, by some estimations, for fifteen to twenty minutes. That was because they were exhausted. Shaunae Miller, like all sprinters were taught to lean at the finish, and get your torso over the line, from the clavicle down is where the judgement on who is first takes place. Shaunae Miller and Allyson Felix were close at the finish, amazing close at the finish. Allyson tried to lean, Shaunae Miller fell over the line, getting her body over their first. Remember that Jennifer Prandini did just that in the Olympic Trials 200 meters, which kept Allyson off the 200 meter team?
I find it annoying that so many thought, and perhaps it was NBC TV, that suggested that Shaunae Miller’s win was not perfect because she leant, then fell at the finish. Others have done it in Olympic history, remember the 5000 meters in 1976? If not, google it.
In the end, the fans were treated to one of the finest women’s 400 meter races ever! â€ª#â€Žrio2016â€¬