Two kilometres from the finish line, Claire Tallent was set to win the gold medal on Saturday after dominating the women’s 20km walk.
For the Olympian who gave birth to her first child less than a year ago, a win at the 2018 Commonwealth Games would’ve meant so much more than taking home gold. She wanted to show the world that women don’t have to chose between achieving their dreams and being a good mum.
They can do both. She could do both.
But with one lap to go, the 36-year-old was given her third and final red paddle signifying her disqualification from the race.
Watch the heartbreaking moment Tallent was disqualified below. Post continues after video.
She broke down, her weary legs sinking to the ground as she burst into uncontrollable sobs. With that red paddle vanished months, years of hard work and sacrifices.
“I wanted to show the world that women that have babies can do anything. They can come back and they can be competitive and you don’t have to stop doing what you love because you’re having a baby.”
But what Tallent did next, despite her personal disappointment, showed Australia and the world what true sportsmanship looks like. What being a strong woman looks like.
Pulling herself off the bitumen, she put aside her own loss and made her way to the finish line to cheer on fellow fast walker Jemima Montag as she went on to win the gold medal for Australia.
“You know, I’m old and all credit, kudos to Jemima, she’s a great girl and she’s going to carry the flag for many, many, many more years to come…” Tallent said after graciously embracing her teammate.
“I just thought it was my day that’s all.”
At a time when Australian sportsmanship is arguably at its lowest, Tallent will be remembered for her act of pure class and professionalism.
But we also want her to remember this doesn't have to be the end for her, or her dream of showing her son Harvey that mum is more than just a mum. Fellow Australian athlete Cate Campbell's incredible comeback is proof of that.
On Thursday night - two years on from that disappointment - the 25-year-old stood on the first place Commonwealth Games podium teary-eyed wearing the gold medal for the women's 50 metre freestyle final, her sister Bronte beside her with the silver.
"So many people have supported me through the past two years. I guess that to be able to share this moment with the rest of Australia was something that was special," she told Seven of how that long-fought moment gave her goosebumps.
So to Tallent, who right now might feel like she's lost everything: please know this loss doesn't mean you failed.
Even if you choose not to lace up your sneakers to compete again, thanks to your bravery and humility, Harvey will always be able to say his mum is an Aussie hero.
Discussing the cheating scandal that brought Australian sportsmanship into disrepute, Mamamia Out Loud ask: can we choose what we are outraged about when it comes to sport?