Felix, Tarmoh set to break deadlock

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Felix_Tarmoh3 REUTERS Allyson Felix (left) and Jeneba Tarmoh cross the finish line.

Eugene, Oregon – Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh will have a run-off on on Tuesday to break their deadlock for the last US 100-metre berth at the London Olympics, USA Track and Field announced Sunday.

Eight days after training partners Felix and Tarmoh shared third – the final Olympic spot on offer – in the women's 100 final, a two-hour meeting between the runners, coach Bob Kersee and USA Track and Field officials settled the issue.

Felix and Tarmoh, whose June 23 photo finish proved inconclusive and who were given identical timings of 11.068 seconds in the race, both agreed to have the run-off.

The showdown will be staged at 2am SA time on Tuesday at Hayward Field, site of the Olympic qualifying meet. The timing will allow US Olympic telecaster NBC to show the unprecedented race during coverage of the US Olympic swim trials.

USA Track and Field officials had wanted a tie-breaker between Tarmoh and Felix to be settled by Sunday. Kersee had pushed for a run-off no sooner than Tuesday out of concern for fatigue and possible injury to the athletes.

“We reached a resolution where I think everybody was satisfied under the circumstances,” USA Track and Field chief executive Max Siegel said.

The Monday compromise allows for a rest after Felix and Tarmoh ran the 200 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and still enables USA Track and Field to meet a deadline to submit rosters to the US Olympic Committee.

Kersee said he was concerned about possible injury in a run-off but USA Track and Field's sports performance chief, Benit a Fitzgerald-Mosley, said the athletes made the choice to have a run-off over a coin flip.

“I'm sure what Bobby said is what he feels,” she said. “We had a dead-heat tie and we had to resolve it. The athletes chose that a runoff was the way to do it.”

Felix, the 2004 and 2008 Olympic 200m runner-up, easily booked her berth in the 200 at London on Saturday by winning the final in 21.69, the sixth-fastest time in event history and best for 14 years.

Felix became the fourth-fastest performer in the event's history, trailing only the late world record-holder Florence Griffith-Joyner, disgraced dope cheat Marion Jones and Jamaican legend Merlene Ottey – who is still running for Slovenia at the age of 52.

Tarmoh, invited by Felix to be her training partner under Kersee, finished fifth but she has secured a spot on the US Olympic 4x100 relay pool from her top-four 100m finish.

Neither woman was willing to forfeit the spot to the other despite their close relationship as workout partners.

“If one of them were going to forfeit their spot, it would have been a much shorter meeting,” USA Track and Field spokeswoman Jill Geer said.

USA Track and Field, with no protocol for such a deadlock, came up with a tie-break system 24 hours after the Felix-Tarmoh finish, allowing for a run-off or coin flip if neither declined the Olympic berth and saying a decision must come by the meet's end.

Kersee advised his runners to delay deciding about the 100 until after the 200 final on the penultimate day of the meet, avoiding distractions for the 200 but pushing to the edge of the governing body-imposed deadline.

After dominating in her third 200-metre race in three days to win Saturday's final, Felix said the physical and emotional toll would make a Sunday run-off difficult.

No US woman has won Olympic gold in the 100 since Gail Devers in 1996 on home soil in Atlanta. – Sapa-AFP


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