Sunday, December 17, 2017
Sports

Allyson Felix stunned in 800-meter final

RIO DE JANEIRO — It took a head-first dive by Shaunae Miller at the finish to beat Allyson Felix, denying her a record fifth Olympic gold medal.

Miller, the 22-year-old from the Bahamas, stayed even with Felix for 398 meters, then sprawled, dove and crashed across the finish line to edge her by 0.07 seconds in the 400 meters Monday at the Rio Olympics.

Felix still became the most decorated female track athlete in U.S. history. Her silver was her seventh medal, breaking a tie with Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

This was supposed to be a coronation for Felix, who was the defending world champion and had the best career time of the eight women in Monday night's final. She was trying to become the first woman to win five golds at the Olympics.

Starting from Lane 7, Miller expanded the lag, instead of getting gobbled up. Felix chipped away. They came down the last 100 meters and Felix drew even, maybe even got a step ahead.

It came down to the last few steps, but Miller opted for the dive — a technique no coach would ever teach. As she lay on her back, writhing in agony, Felix sat stone-faced. Ten seconds passed. Then 20. Finally, the result popped up. Miller won in 49.44 seconds.

The rules say the win is determined by which athlete has any part of her torso cross the line first. The photo finish showed the negative image of Miller's sprawled out body, with her shoulder just barely over the line before Felix reached.

In the men's 800, David Rudisha won gold — but didn't get a world record this time. The Kenyan won his second Olympic title in a row in 1 minute, 42.15 seconds, more than a second off the time he set at the Olympics four years ago. Algeria's Taoufik Makhloufi was second and Clayton Murphy of the United States set a personal best of 1:42.93 for bronze.

Weather hit the track and field events hard — rain caused a delay in the night's program and turned the blue track into a series of pools and puddles at the Olympic Stadium.

Sandra Perkovic had two fouls in wet conditions and was one discus throw from being eliminated. In drier conditions, she came through with an automatic qualifying measure for the final.

The 110-meter hurdles heats were hard hit, prompting organizers to run a special race later in the night.

Usain Bolt, who received his third straight 100-meter gold medal from his win the previous night, wasn't happy about how soon Sunday's final came after the semifinals. Faced with a turnaround time of barely more than an hour, Bolt had trouble gearing up to be at his best for the marquee event of the Olympics; the Jamaican said the scheduling accounted for his "slow" time of 9.8 seconds.

"I don't know who decided that," said Bolt, the world record holder at 9.58 seconds. "It was really stupid. So, that's why the race was slow. There's no way you can run and go back around and run fast times again."

It was a decision made with broadcasters in mind more than runners. In the recent past, 100-meter sprinters have been given more than two hours between semifinals and finals.

In other events, American Emma Coburn earned a bronze medal in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase, which was won by Bahrain's Ruth Jebet. Poland's Anita Wlodarczyk set a world record to win the hammer (270 feet); Americans Amber Campbell and Deanna Price were sixth and eighth.

Brazil's Thiago Braz da Silva upset defending champion Renaud Lavillenie of France and win pole vault gold with an Olympic record of 6.03 meters (19 feet, 73/4 inches). Lavillenie took silver and American Sam Kendricks earned the bronze.

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