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Runoff is set for final Olympic berth in women's 100-meter dash

Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh will compete at 5 p.m. Monday to settle third-place tie. Felix says it's awkward to face friend and training mate but they will simply make best of the circumstances.

July 01, 2012|By Helene Elliott
  • Jeneba Tarmoh and Allyson Felix will settle a tie for the final berth in the 100-meter dash at the London Games.
Jeneba Tarmoh and Allyson Felix will settle a tie for the final berth in the… (Christian Petersen / Getty…)

EUGENE, Ore. — — It normally takes about 11 seconds to determine the top finishers in the women's 100-meter dash at the elite level.

When Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh cross the finish line of their runoff Monday night at Hayward Field, it will have taken nine-plus days to settle the tie between them for third place at the U.S. Olympic trials and determine the final berth in the 100 at the London Games this month.

"It's definitely been a long process," Felix said Sunday. "I was not expecting to be having another race, of course."

The race is scheduled for 5 p.m., conveniently fitting a window for NBC to break into its swim trials telecast. However, the race won't be aired live in Los Angeles. It will be streamed live at NBCOlympics.com.

The two Los Angeles-based sprinters were clocked in 11.068 seconds in the 100 final on June 23. Tarmoh was initially placed third and Felix fourth on the unofficial scoreboard results, but race officials immediately conferred to examine images from photo-finish cameras. Those images were inconclusive, and a dead heat was declared.

Officials of USA Track and Field had no tiebreaking procedures in place and came up with the idea of settling third place through a runoff or, if neither woman voiced a preference, by a coin flip. USATF wanted to have the team determined before the trials ended Sunday so it could submit a team roster to the U.S. Olympic Committee on Monday.

However, Bobby Kersee, who coaches both women, told The Times last week he didn't want a runoff "at least until Tuesday" because both competed in the 100 and the 200. Felix won the 200 on Saturday in 21.69 seconds, the sixth-fastest time ever recorded. Tarmoh was fifth in that race.

The runoff plan was announced Sunday afternoon following meetings that involved the runners, their coach, their respective agents and USATF representatives. Jill Geer, chief communications officer for USATF, said delaying the tiebreaker until Monday was a practical solution.

"The only thing worse than waiting too long to have a runoff is having it too soon and having one of your star athletes get injured," Geer said.

Felix acknowledged she's tired after a week that has been stressful physically and emotionally.

"This was what we were presented and it's the best solution," she said. "I'm trying to get my mind prepared. It seemed like everything was on a timeline. The team has to be named by a certain time and we had to push it back."

Felix, a two-time Olympic silver medalist in the 200, acknowledged being pitted against her friend and training mate is awkward but said they will simply make the best of the circumstances.

"Me and Jeneba had talked a few times while all this was going on," Felix said, "and we said we weren't going to let this change our relationship with each other. It's just a decision that had to be made."

Tarmoh's agent, Kimberly Holland, could not be reached for comment.

Geer said the experience has taught USATF a valuable lesson.

"To have all of your procedures in place. And to have those rules and procedures be clear to everyone involved is the most important thing for sure," Geer said. "And that there's very little room for error in 100 meters."

helene.elliott@latimes.com

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