America’s Allyson Felix looked set to win the 400-meter dash on Monday, but she was edged out of first place thanks to a last minute dive from Bahamian sprinter Shaunae Miller.
After the race, it took Felix nearly an hour before she could confront reporters, as she told them of her extreme disappointment at failing to bring back another gold for Team USA.
‘I’m a competitor. I went for it. At the moment,’ Felix said. ‘It’s just painful.’
She added: ‘I feel emotionally and physically drained at this point…Just disappointment, you know. I don’t think I’ve quite had a year this tough. I just really wanted it.’
However, if there is any consolation prize, it’s in the fact that her new silver medal makes her the most decorated female American in Olympic track & field history, ahead of Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
In an interview on the Today show Tuesday morning, Felix said the accomplishment hasn’t quite sunk in yet.
‘Not quite,’ she said. ‘It’s is something that I’m very, very proud of. It’s been so many years and so much hard work and something…to be in the same sentence as Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who is a minot and an idol – that’s going to take a while to sink in.’
During the race, Miller started out strong and led the pack for most of the 400 meters. But she was overtaken by Felix coming into the last straightaway.
As the two were approaching the finish line it seemed that Felix was going to win but Miller leaped forward and was the first to slide across the finish line.
In those final moments, when she was neck and neck with Miller, Felix said she just focused on giving it her all.
‘I just dug deep. To me this year has been all about fighting, so I knew I was just going to give all I had and fight. And i felt like I did that and I left it all out there,’ she said.
Felix said she had no idea who won in the seconds right after the finish.
‘I wasn’t sure, no. I was just kind of staring up at the board trying to see how it was going to sort out,’ she said.
Felix said diving is something she’s ‘not too used to seeing’ but says ‘it happens every now and then’.
Miller herself said it’s not a move she pulled before.
‘I’ve never done it before,’ Miller said of her dive. ‘I have some cuts and bruises, a few burns… it hurts.’
‘When I was on the ground I didn’t know I’d won,’ the gold medalist added. ‘I still don’t know how it happened.
‘What was in my mind was I had to get a gold medal. The next thing I was on the ground. It’s an amazing feeling.’
In the end, Miller finished the race at 49.44, a personal best to Felix’s 49.51, her season’s best.
Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson finished in third place with 49.85, with the two other Americans in the race finishing fourth and fifth.
Some on social media questioned whether winning by diving was fair.
‘Shaunae Miller wasn’t even running at that point,’ wrote one fan on Twitter. ‘How is that allowed? Allyson Felix was robbed #ByeBahamas’
Yet the rules are clear: ‘The first athlete whose torso (as distinguished from the head, neck, arms, legs, hands or feet) reaches the vertical plane of the closest edge of the finish line is the winner,’ explained NBC.
This article originally appeared on the Daily Mail.