Diving across the finishing line … is it legal?

People often get Bermuda and the Bahamas confused, geographically and legally, and perhaps because of the similarity of their names.

But it was a Bahamian athlete, not a Bermudian athlete, that made the headlines today, after she won the women’s 400 metre gold medal at the Rio Olympics, with a move that has been described variously as a ‘dive’, a ‘lunge’, a ‘launch’, and a ‘tumble’.

This resulted in her ‘torso’ crossing the finishing line first, which is the relevant part of the body for the purpose of determining your finishing position under the rules.

It appears that diving across the line is perfectly legal, although to do so ‘intentionally’ may potentially suffer from criticisms of unsportsmanlike behavior …

For further details, see:

http://www.vox.com/2016/8/15/12495316/allyson-felix-shaunae-miller-400-meter-olympics-rio

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/olympics/2016/08/16/shaunae-miller-dives-over-line-to-win-controversial-olympic-gold/

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-olympics-rio-athletics-w-400m-idUSKCN10R075

Ironically, it seems that the silver medal winner, Allyson Felix, a legendary sportswoman and 6 time Olympic medallist, might have partly provided the inspiration for the practice of ‘diving’, 4 years ago, having finished ‘torso’ and ‘torso’ with another runner, Jeneba Tarmoh, in qualifying for the 2012 Olympics, as reported by the Daily Mail in 2012:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2167949/Track-field-athletes-diving-finish-line-bid-make-Olympics-team.html

But David Neville III had also secured a bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, by a Superman-style dive across the line, so the technique now appears to be fairly well-established!

https://www.iaaf.org/news/news/nevilles-dive-for-beijing-bronze-and-dropping

https://www.quora.com/When-in-a-track-race-can-I-dive-to-the-finish-line

Bermudian athletes should take note.

However, as various commentators make clear, diving successfully is not at all straightforward, and appears to require a combination of luck, practice, timing, and technique!

 

 

 

 

 

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