A very unusual thing happened last weekend in Eugene, Oregon. Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh both finished in a dead heat for 3rd place (11.068 sec) in the Women’s 100-Meter Finals for U.S. Olympic Team qualifications. Only one can go to London representing our country in this particular event, so a “tiebreaker” is now required. Problem is……. there is no established plan in place for a “tiebreaker”. This situation has NEVER occurred in the history of U.S. Olympic track & field team qualifying. One thing is for certain though………whenever and however the eventual “tiebreaker” is conducted; it must be completed by THIS Sunday because that’s when our 2012 Olympic Team has to be finalized.
What an embarrassment for the USA Track & Field (USATF) organization! Tarmoh was originally given 3rd, but review of pictures from two photo-finish cameras (at 3,000 frames/second) declared it a dead heat. The torso is used to determine times and finishes. Therefore, given the photo above (Tarmoh is #1 (on the near side) and Felix is #2 (on the far side)), what do you think?
In lieu of Men’s 100-Meter champion Justin Gatlin’s half-baked suggestion of a mud wrestling match as the “tiebreaker”, here’s what the USATF has scrambled to come up with to settle this dilemma:
- Give both sprinters the option to decline the spot. Whoever declines would become the event alternate. (Yeah, like that would ever happen).
- Coin Flip or Run-Off? Both women have to agree, otherwise there would be a run-off. If either refuses to give a preference, a coin toss would decide. (A coin toss should NEVER be considered as a “tiebreaker” for something this important!)
If a coin toss is chosen (which would shock everyone), Felix would be given the call since she has a higher world ranking. If she declines the call, it’s automatically called “heads”. Also, just in case you were wondering, if a run-off ends in a dead heat again (figure the odds of that happening), a coin toss would break the tie. Wow, that’s what I call messed-up! Why are the competitors even being asked what THEY prefer? It’s NOT their decision! Guidelines should already be in place. OK, lesson learned for the USATF.
There are a few other interesting items to keep in mind regarding the eventual “tiebreaker”. BOTH women will also be trying to qualify in the 200-Meter (to be completed by tomorrow), and BOTH train together and have the same coach (Bobby Kersee, husband and former coach of now-retired Olympic icon Jackie Joyner). Felix is favored to win the 200. BOTH have already been (automatically) selected for the 6-member relay team pool, and the final results of the 100-Meter “tiebreaker” will NOT affect the relay team pool. Allyson Felix, 26, out of Southern Cal is primarily a 200-Meter sprinter, but also competes in the 100 and 400. She’s a 2-time Olympic Silver medalist (2004 and 2008) in the 200. She was also a Gold medalist at Beijing on the 4×400-Meter relay team. Jeneba Tarmoh, the 22-year old upstart out of Texas A&M, is a 100 and 200 Meter specialist. She has never been an Olympian, but placed 3rd in the 200 Meters at the 2011 USA National Outdoor Championships.
Their coach, Bobby Kersee, is adamant that the “tiebreaker” decision should not be made or conducted until AFTER the 200-Meter trials are completed. The USATF agreed, and has announced that the FINAL “tiebreaker” mechanism will be determined after the 200-Meter trials……..either tomorrow evening or Sunday morning. That would likely point to sometime Sunday for a possible run-off, and would make for a fitting and exciting punctuation point on the 2012 Eugene Olympic trials. Just how competitive are these two athletes? Will one, more or less, “concede” the 100-Meter event to the other?
Whatever happens, it will be well worth watching!
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