Controversy erupted online Monday evening after Bahamian Shaunae Miller dove to take the gold medal over American Allyson Felix. During the women’s 400-meter dash at the Olympic Games, Miller made a legal move across the finish line, as she and Felix ran virtually neck-and-neck.
Miller ultimately beat the American star, coming in at 49.44 seconds compared to Felix’s 49.51-second clock-in. Only 0.07 seconds separated the two.
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) August 16, 2016
Olympic track-and-field rules state, “The first athlete whose torso… reaches the vertical plane of the closest edge of the finish line is the winner.”
However, a divide exploded on Twitter after Miller earned first place in the race.
Many in support of Team USA blasted the move.
Aish called the 22-year-old a “cheat.”
Shaunae Miller is a cheat. Doesn't matter if it was intentional or not, track races are won by foot not diving.
— how dare you detective diaz i am YOUR SUPERIOR OFF (@WTFAisha) August 16, 2016
Melo also called Miller a cheater and thought the Olympics declaring the move a win was “stupid.”
idc alyson felix should've won, shaunae miller is a diving cheater, and the fact that the olympics acknowledges her dive as a win is stupid
— Melo 🇳🇬🇨🇮 (@WhatsUpMelo) August 16, 2016
While @10ys_Taige questioned American sprinter Justin Gatlin’s doping suspension compared to Miller’s dive.
Justin Gatlin's been suspended half his natural life but Shaunae Miller takes a spill and she's the cheater?
— J. Cole Haan 🇧🇸🏴☠️ (@Taige42) August 16, 2016
And a user by the name ADB believed cheating did not factor in the decision but thought the dive was “very pathetic and undeserving.”
But others defended the move.
Ryan Wilson asked this question:
— Ryan Wilson (@ryancwilson) August 16, 2016
Olympic hurdler and bobsledder Lolo Jones pointed out many professional athletes have used the maneuver to win.
Ppl are mad Miller won with a dive but most pro's at one point have used that tactic to win. Miller didn't cheat Allyson, she won fair.
— Lolo Jones (@lolojones) August 16, 2016
Jones added in response to Ryan Wilson’s question, tweeting, “America we have won medals off of dives, so please have more class about Miller.”
Michael Cotton commended her for making the “largest sacrifice.”
Sometimes the victory goes to the one willing to make the largest sacrifice. I'm team #ShaunaeMiller on this one.
— Michael Cotton, Jr. (@Coach_Cott) August 16, 2016
@BigKapo121 applauded her for doing whatever it took to win.
— Kapo Sports 🇵🇷 (@BigKapo121) August 16, 2016
So did Superman.
Winning a running race by flying.
— Superman (@SupermanTweets) August 16, 2016
@xtralargeintl called for a medal exchange.
— Xtra Large Int'l (@xtralargeintl) August 16, 2016
At the 2008 Games in Beijing, China, U.S. sprinter David Neville’s dove past Bahamian Chris Brown during the men’s 400-meter final. He earned bronze, leaving Brown in fourth place, according to USA Today.
Along with tweets defending the gold medalist, a few memes sprung up in reaction.
One featured the sprinter on a Slip ‘N Slide box.
— Dynamics • £ (@theDYNAMICS) August 16, 2016
While another featured Miller jumping in the pool with Beyoncé and Jay Z.
— Weezy F. Yogi 🧘🏽♂️🕉 (@LesIzMore) August 16, 2016
Miller told USA Today how the dive occurred.
“The only thing going through my mind was ‘I have to get the gold medal,’ ” Miller said. “When I was on the ground I didn’t know if I had won it yet until I heard my mom screaming. And when I heard her screaming, I had to have won the race.”
But when asked about how common it is for runners to dive across the finish line, Felix was “not too used to seeing it.”
“You know, it happens every now and then, but it’s not too common,” the American told NBC’s “Today Show.”
“It wasn’t my best race,” Felix admitted. “I felt like it got a little bit away from me.”
Still, the star made history as the most decorated woman in American track and field with her silver medal.
“It is something that I’m definitely very, very proud of,” she said. “To be in the same sentence as Jackie Joyner-Kersee, a mentor, an idol, that’s going to take some time to sink in.”