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This Race Was So Close That A Photo Was Used To Decide The Winner


Posted on August 13, 2016, at 11:37 a.m. ET

On Saturday, the men's single sculling finals took place in Rio and it turned out to be one of the closest finishes in Olympic history.

Matthias Hangst / Getty Images

Sculling is a rowing technique where the athlete propels the boat forward using two oars, on either side of the boat — as opposed to sweeping, where each rower has one oar on either side of the boat.

The single scull event has only one rower in each boat, so one athlete represents each country. The nations competing for gold in the men's sculling final included Poland, Cuba, Belarus, New Zealand, Croatia, Mexico, Czech Republic, and Belgium.

In the end, it came down to Damir Martin of Croatia and Mahé Drysdale of New Zealand.

Buda Mendes / Getty Images

Drysdale won gold in the men's single sculls in 2012, making him the defending champion. But Martin also won gold at the 2012 Olympics in the quadruple sculling event.

By the last 500 meters of the race on Saturday, Martin had a clear lead, but Drysdale began inching up on the Croatian as they got closer to the finish line.

Martin and Drysdale finished so close that it was unclear who the winner was at first and things got dramatic AF.

Christian Petersen / Getty Images

Initially, the crowd erupted in applause for Martin, but it suddenly became clear that the clocks showed that both men finished at the exact same time, down to the hundredth (.01) of a second. The crowd became silent and everyone was confused and shocked, including Martin and Drysdale.

Both men finished in 6:41:34, which meant the winner would be decided by one thousandth (.001) of a second.

Jeremy Lee / Reuters

One thousandth of a second is such a short unit of time that it didn't even show up on the racing clocks initially.

Judges had to use a photo from the finish to determine who actually won — and the whole thing came down to a difference of just one centimeter. ONE. CENTIMETER.

Meanwhile, everyone watching was just like:

Bravo / Via


After a nail-biting two minutes, Kiwi Mahé Drysdale was named as the winner, successfully defending his gold medal.

Matthias Hangst / Getty Images / Via

People were losing it on Twitter over the close race.


@MaheDrysdale defends his Olympic gold by 0.001 seconds. WHAT?! One one-thousandth of a second. You can't even measure that by hand. Wow.

I nearly died there! What a race! What a legend of a race from Damir and what a timing by @MaheDrysdale. Stuff of legends #rowing

So yeah, a 2,000 meter race came down to just one centimeter. MADNESS.

Buda Mendes / Getty Images

And to top it off, the 37-year-old Kiwi broke a world record, too.

Pool / Getty Images

And since Martin clocked in at the same time, he broke a world record, too!

Congratulations, Mahé!

Matthias Hangst / Getty Images / Via

And good job to all of you Olympic super-humans!

Buda Mendes / Getty Images

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.