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Miller wins 400m gold in unorthodox finish

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Bahamas' Shaunae Miller dives across the line to win the women's 400-meter final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Had Shaunae Miller finished the women's 400m final on her feet she would have had to settle for Olympic silver.

So she produced a dive like a rugby league player in a try-scoring motion - and won gold.

Miller, from the Bahamas, sprung one of the upsets of the Rio Games on Monday night (Tuesday AEST), executing an outrageous and rarely seen move to deny American reigning world champion champion Allyson Felix a record fifth Olympic gold medal.

The 22-year-old took an early lead on a rain-soaked track, but Felix gained on her with every stride on the final straight.

Neck and neck with two steps to go, Miller launched herself over the finish line to clock a personal-best time of 49.44 seconds and pip Felix by 0.07.

Rules state the winner is determined by which athlete has any part of her torso cross the line first.

The photo of the finish showed the negative image of Miller's shoulder just barely over the line before Felix reached.

As she lay shaking on the track, Miller appeared as shocked as everyone else by what she'd just done.

"I didn't see anyone until the last 20 metres, the only thing I was thinking was that I must get that gold medal," Miller said.

"I think (the dive) was just a reaction. My mind went blank, the next thing I knew I was lying on the ground.

"I've got a few cuts and bruises but I'm OK.

"This is the moment I have been waiting for. I am just so happy, so grateful, such emotions I just can't say."

Felix, who finished in 49.51, was also sprawled on the ground trying to come to terms with what had just happened.

"Disappointment," the 30-year-old said as she struggled to hold back her tears.

"It's been a tough one and I really hoped it would come together tonight.

"I just gave it all I had. I feel emotionally and physically drained.

"I really wanted it, it's painful."

It was the only individual race on the Rio calendar for Felix, who was denied the chance to defend her 200m title and bid for an unprecedented double after failing to qualify by one hundredth of a second at the US trials.

The silver was still the Californian's seventh in four Games, the most of any American female track and field athlete at the Olympics.

Shericka Jackson claimed bronze in 49.85.

© AAP 2016