Tie at track trials produces controversy but no solutions yet
Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh could face a run-off or coin flip to decide who will join the Olympic team.
The Associated Press
EUGENE, Ore. — Everybody has an opinion — even Olympic gold medalists — about USA Track and Field's hastily unveiled options for breaking a third-place tie between Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh, who finished in a dead heat in the 100-meter final at last weekend's Olympic trials.
On Tuesday, three days after they raced, USATF still has no idea when it will be resolved.
The sprinters have until Sunday, when the trials end, to decide if they want a runoff — a winner-take-all race to break the tie — or a flip of a coin to determine who gets the last spot on the London-bound team. One of them can simply bow out, too.
"I honestly can't tell you why a protocol wasn't in place," USATF President Stephanie Hightower said. "No one ever thought through it. The likelihood of it happening didn't cross anybody's minds."
Surprising, since this has happened before — to Hightower, no less.
At the 1984 Olympic trials, she finished in a three-way tie for second place in the hurdles. A grainy photo was used to break the tie and she was the odd person out, failing to earn a spot.
As for Felix and Tarmoh, they will compete in the 200 meters and after Saturday's final, if both make it, decide what to do next. The trials went on a two-day break Tuesday and will resume Thursday.
So far, the women have been pretty much mum on the matter. Their teammates have not.
"As an athlete, this worries me," said Gatlin, who won the 100 last weekend, but will skip the 200. "Because no one knew about this loophole in the system.
"To run the 100-meter final at the Olympic trials and for it to be decided on a coin toss? It blows my mind."
If left to Greene, an Olympic gold medalist in 2000, he would pick runoff. Maybe.
"That's why you have a coach," he said. "If he said (coin flip), I would have to do that."
Young swimmers rise
Natalie Coughlin, the two-time defending Olympic champion in the 100-meter backstroke, grabbed the next-to-last spot for Wednesday night's final in Omaha, Neb., where the top four qualifiers are all 18 or younger and three of them swam under one minute.
The 29-year-old veteran will be hard-pressed to finish first or second, which she needs to do to secure a spot on her third consecutive Olympic team. Her time of 1 minute, 0.63 seconds Tuesday put her in the final.