The American sprinter came so close to the gold – but an opponent's last-minute dive won the race

By Steve Helling
Updated August 15, 2016 11:10 PM

Knees heal, but a gold medal is forever.

That was the lesson Monday night, following a dramatic end to the women’s 400-meter dash at the Rio Olympic Games.

For a moment, it looked like Allyson Felix might take the gold. Although Bahamas sprinter Shaunae Miller had been leading for the first half of the race, U.S.A.’s Felix caught up in the last few steps. They were neck and neck.

Then Miller did something unconventional: She lunged face-first over the finish line, breaking the plane just 0.07 seconds before Felix and landing face down.

(She even skinned her knees.)

And just like that, Miller took the gold with a time of 49.44, while Felix grabbed the silver in 49.51.

Shericka Jackson, of Jamaica, won the bronze medal in 49.85 seconds.

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Exhausted, Felix and Miller both lay panting on the track while their times were calculated. The crowd roared in appreciation. (Those following along at home began quickly spinning social media posts from Miller’s dive.)

Before the games, the 30-year-old Felix told PEOPLE that she was running to win. “My plan is to go out there and really give it all I’ve got,” she said.

“I’m going to enjoy the entire Olympics. And I’m going to leave it all out there.”