Why is the photo finish in the women’s 400 meters race, won by Shaunae Miller against a charging Allyson Felix, the best moment of the Olympic games so far? Because it’s remarkable without doing something historic like setting a new world record or winning more gold medals than anyone else. It stands out because it symbolizes so many things the Olympics stand for behind all the money and commercialism.
Miller isn’t much of an underdog, but Felix, even with her recent injuries, was favored to win the race. Yet she had a bad start, while Miller, the silver medalist in this event a year ago in the world championships, took off from the outside and created a lot of catching up to do.
Felix, at some point, reached top speed, and started gaining on Miller. Running in lane 4, while Miller was a bit ahead, on the outside, lane 7. Felix caught up with her. It even looked like she was in the lead for a very short time, as the finish line was approaching.
Miller runs with power. Felix is one of the more elegant sprinters you’ll ever see. She was going to cross the finish line by moving her chest forward, hoping to beat Miller to it. Miller, already losing speed and fast, went for an unconventional finish: Diving to the finish line. Maybe it was more of a tumble than a dive, but what matters is the end result: Her shoulder crossed the finish line first, and gold went to her. Felix finished 0.07 seconds behind her. Not super close, but in a 400 meters race, it’s incredibly tight.