In our latest 'Story behind the photo' series piece, Shaunae Miller-Uibo talks in detail about this spectacular image of her falling across the finish line to strike 400m gold at the Rio Olympic Games.
“This is the moment when I fell across the line to win the 2016 Olympic 400m title. Even today when I see this image and talk about my success in Rio, it stirs up so many emotions in me. To be an Olympic champion was an amazing feeling. It was a goal I had wanted to achieve from a young age growing up in The Bahamas.
“Leading into the 2016 season I felt my training had gone very well. Each year my team always try to figure out different ways of running and preparing for the 200m and 400m. I felt that year we put a lot of emphasis on speed endurance and the 2016 season went very well for me. We worked on some new race models and I was unbeaten. In my final competition before the Rio Games, I ran a PR of 49.55 at the London Diamond League, which gave me a lot of confidence and motivation going into Rio.
“Competing at my second Olympic Games was a more relaxing experience for me. I was there with my then fiancé and now husband (Maicel Uibo the Estonian decathlete), who was competing at his first Olympics Games. It was great to spend time with him in the Olympic Village.
“We played some of the virtual games experiences and I recall the rollercoaster ride was pretty scary. It was a good distraction from the competition – although as I’ve said in the past I don’t really suffer nerves before I compete.
“The heats and semi-finals went smoothly and I remember a wind storm on the morning of my final blowing around the Athletes’ Village, thinking I hope they don’t cancel the final. Thankfully this was not the case. I enjoyed a chilled day and chatted to my coach (Lance Brauman), who reminded me I had done all the hard work and to have fun. Throughout the season we had adopted different race models but for the final we opted for a different race strategy and a more aggressive approach.
“The race went by so quickly. I was in one of the outside lanes so I wasn’t aware where we key rivals were in the race. I recall saying to myself down the back stretch I have to go and then in the final 40 metres starting to really feel the pain hit my legs. As I was coming towards the line I started losing my balance and I just thought to myself, 'please don’t fall'.
“Moments later, I fell. I didn’t know whether I had won the race. Everything was like a blur. I suffered some cuts and bruises on the knee, hips and thigh but because of the adrenaline I was unconcerned. The results took forever to pop up on the screen and I just remember the complete silence before hearing my mum’s scream (Mabelene) in the stadium followed by confirmation on the big screen I had won.
“That day in Rio everything fell into place and even today I feel very emotional about it. From the age of nine or ten I fell in love with track and field and wanted to be an Olympic champion. To achieve that goal I had worked so hard for was like a dream come true. “
Steve Landells for the IAAF