Everyone is saying sprinter Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas won gold in the women’s 400 meters by “diving” across the finish line. And as Olympic diving gold medalist Ren Qian – an actual diving gold medalist – I couldn’t be more offended.
I mean, are we kidding? She stumbled forward and fell! With no grace! With no artistry! With no flips! Diving is delicate and art mixed with the power of the human body and the bravery of the human mind.
Miller fell forward. Her knee hit first. One knee, then the other, how do you even do that? Her hands were not together. Her feet were not together.
If an actual diver did what Miller did, it would have gotten zero points. Zero! It would earn them headlines, sure, but they’d be headlines like, “The Shame of a Nation.” Not “Shaunae Miller Dives for Gold.” Which is a real headline I had to read the day after I won a gold medal for diving.
And I know there is a contradiction here– a good dive doesn’t make a splash. And technically, Miller didn’t splash. But come on! If there was water there she would have splashed!
Oh that’s another reason Miller didn’t dive, THERE WAS NO WATER. Landing in water is one of the hardest parts of diving.
It’s painful and it’s terrifying. You’ve just done your flips and spins, and the dive is technically over, but guess what? You can’t breathe! Because you’re underwater and if you do you’ll die.
Did Miller have to deal with any of that? No, she could breathe all she wanted right after she landed, no problem at all. Because it wasn’t a dive.
Comparing Shaunae Miller’s stumble forward to a dive is like saying somebody who dropped a sharp knife on their foot “performed brain surgery” on their foot.
A life-saving brain surgeon would rightly be insulted and filled with so much rage there’s a ringing in her ears and she’s sort of afraid of what she might do. Just as I am.
Just as I am.