Eugene, Oregon – USA Track and Field announced a new dead-heat policy Sunday that could see a run-off within a week between Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh for the last US 100-metre berth at the London Olympics.
The sprinters were still waiting more than 24 hours after their race just to learn what protocol would be used to break their deadlock for third place in Saturday's final at the US Olympic Track and Field Trials.
No protocol was in place to break a tie for third, the final Olympic berth in any event, which happened when Felix and Tarmoh, both coached by Bob Kersee, finished deadlocked in 11.07 seconds on Saturday.
The new plan would allow either athlete to decline her spot on the Olympic team. If neither does, they could choose between a coin flip and run-off to decide the berth. If they agree on an option, that option would be used.
If the athletes disagree on the method, a run-off would be used. If both athletes refuse to declare a preference, a coin flip would be used.
Felix, the 200-metre Olympic runner-up in 2004 and 2008 seeking another shot at Olympic gold, and Tarmoh, a 22-year-old who had briefly been declared alone in third, had not notified USA Track and Field of their choices late on Sunday.
Both Felix and Tarmoh are also entered in the 200, which has qualifying on Thursday, semi-finals on Friday and a Saturday final.
The issue must be decided by next Sunday's concluding day of the meet, but a run-off could wait until next Sunday, after the 200, so as not to jeopardise either woman's chances in that event with an unplanned extra race.
Officials of the USA Track and Field and US Olympic Committee, which has the final say on all selection procedures for the US team, together with athletes determined the protocol, with no input from sponsors like Nike or US trials and Olympic telecaster NBC, USA Track and Field spokeswoman Jill Geer said.
“There were no other factors or opinions taken into account,” Geer said. “Everything was considered and this was considered to be the most fair (method).”
Nike sponsors both Felix and Tarmoh.
Meet officials examined camera images, one of which was released by USA Track and Field, to make the dead heat ruling after Tarmoh had been announced as the third-place finisher at Hayward Field.
Detailed results first showed Tarmoh's exact time at 11.068 and Felix at 11.069, but both were put on Tarmoh's time after the photo-finish was viewed.
“To edge someone of that caliber always feels good,” Tarmoh said minutes after the race.
Felix was dejected at coming up short in the 100 by so small a margin even though she said only days earlier that her main priority was next week's 200 and the 100 was “icing on the cake” to help her 200 bid.
“Just disappointed. I worked really hard and it just didn't come together,” Felix said minutes after the race. “I just tried to get out and give it my all. Disappointment. That's the only thing you feel.
“You think of things you could have done different. I'm happy for my teammate who came in third, but it hurts.” – Sapa-AFP