PHOTO: Olympic triathlon ends in near-tie

Switzerland's Nicola Spirig, background, beats out Sweden's Lisa Norden to win gold medal on Saturday. (Getty Images)

It's one thing to run 100 meters and have the finish of a race come down to a virtual tie.

It's another impossible-to-calculate set of variances that cosmically come into play when, after a triathlon, two athletes can't be separated by the real-time human eye as they cross the finish line. We're talking a 1.5-kilometer/.93-mile swim, followed by a comfortable little 40-kilometer/25-mile bike ride up and down hilly terrain, and it all finishes up with an easy lope: 10 kilometers/6.2 miles to run to get to the finish.

All that effort and travel, and for women, it takes about two hours to complete. And in the most public and cherished triathlon of them all, we had the closest finish ever. What. Are. The. Odds. People.

Just check that photo out. Stare at it for 40 seconds and think about the two hours that led to its culmination. Run this triathlon another 10,000 times and we wouldn't get a finish this close again. Switzerland's Nicola Spirig edged -- or should we say "boobed"? -- out Sweden's Lisa Norden Saturday. The win gave the Swiss its first gold, and its first medal, of the 2012 Games.

After the meet Spirig said, "I had a feeling I'd won but I wasn't sure and I needed an official to tell me. It took a few minutes and those minutes were really hard. I'd have been happy just to win a medal but of course it's a big difference to get gold or silver. It's amazing, I'm a little bit speechless."

She couldn't really talk and we couldn't really see. Thank goodness for technology. Here's how the finish looked from another angle, without the aid of flash photography.

                                                                                                                                                                   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his seventh season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics and... Full Bio

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