American long distance runner Molly Huddle raised her arms triumphantly in the air as she won a bronze medal in the women’s 9,999m race at the IAAF World Championships.
The only problem for Huddle was that she had another metre to go.
The premature celebration was an embarrassing stuff-up for Huddle, who like all the other athletes in the race has trained her entire life to be where she is.
Huddle turned to her right just a metre from the line expecting to see an Ethiopian runner coming up beside her, but after crossing the finish line, the sight of American teammate Emily Infield dipping her chest would have made Huddle sick to the stomach.
“Emily slipped on the inside as I eased up a bit, she got this once-in-a-lifetime moment,” Huddle said in an interview on Universal Sports after the race. “I feel like it kind of slipped through my fingers, so it’s frustrating.
“In that last half step, I just let up too much. Emily [Infield] was right there the whole time with just more momentum. She got that bronze. It’s going to take a long time to get over.
“I just didn’t want to mess up on the last lap – and I did. I don’t know when that chance will come again.”
Huddle slowed down so much that Infield beat her by nine tenths of a second and in doing so became the first non-African born woman to win a world championship medal in the 10,000m since fellow American Kara Goucher won bronze in Osaka eight years ago.
“I just ran through the line,” Infield said. “I feel a little guilty because I feel like Molly let up a little.
“I don’t think she realised how close I was. I was just trying to run through the line. I’m really thrilled.”
Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya won the gold medal ahead of Ethiopian Gelete Burka in second place.