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Miller Wins Thrilling 400m Final...

Shaunae Miller on the ground after winning the 400m final. (AP)

 

RIO de Janeiro, Brazil: In a thrilling 400 metre final on Monday night, Shaunae Miller dived across the finish line to win Olympic gold for the Bahamas.

 

With the USA's Allyson Felix – who defeated Miller at last year's IAAF World Championship – trailing behind her down the home stretch in lane four, Miller used her 6-foot, 1-inch frame in lane seven to hold off the late comeback and secure the title in a personal best of 49.44 seconds. Miller did the same thing that Felix did to her last year at the Worlds in Beijing, China, by running away with the race from the crack of the gun.

 

Shaunae Miller dives across the finish line. (AP)

Along the way on the back stretch, American Natasha Hastings challenged her, but Miller shook her off and made her move. She opened the gap coming off the final curve and it was just a matter of where the finish line was. Then, as she got closer to the line, Felix started to reel her in.

 

But just as they started to run out of real estate, Miller did the unthinkable - she dove onto the moist Olympic Stadium surface, which had delayed the men's 110 metre hurdles preliminaries earlier because of the pouring rain - to snatch the gold from Felix, who had to settle for the silver in a season's best of 49.51.

 

The bronze went to Jamaican Shericka Jackson in 49.85.

It was almost a repeat of the finish at last year's Worlds, except Miller turned the tables on Felix with Jackson settling for the bronze.

 

Miller became just the second Bahamian to achieve the Olympic feat, joining national record holder Tonique Williams-Darling, who took gold in Athens, Greece and came back for another at the IAAF World Championships in Helsinki, Finland.

 

The only thing that Miller didn't do was break Williams-Darling's Bahamian national record of 49.07 that was established on September 12, 2004 in Berlin, Germany.

 

Four years ago in London, Miller was unable to complete the preliminaries of the women's 400m in her Olympic debut after coming off the first turn with a slight hamstring injury. But on Monday night, there was nothing that was going to stop her, not even Felix, who stunned her in the semi-final the day before.

 

Not this time.

 

The back-to-back 2010 IAAF World Junior Champion and 2011 IAAF World Youth Champion has finally taken her position on top of the world at the senior level, adding to her silver in the World Championships last year and bronze from the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot in 2014.

 

Her parents, Shaun and Maybelene Miller, were among those helping her to celebrate. As was her fiancé, Maicel Uibo, from Estonia, who is competing here in the men's decathlon. What more could she ask for?

 

On Tuesday, Miller can look forward to the national anthem and the Bahamian flag being raised during the awards ceremony as she receives her medal.

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