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Dead heat at U.S. track and field championships is under review

Officials are trying to determine how to settle a third-place tie between Jeneba Tarmoh and Allyson Felix in the women's 100 meters. A berth on the U.S. Olympic team to the London Games is at stake.

June 24, 2012|By Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times
  • Jeneba Tarmoh, left, and Allyson Felix look on after competing in the women's 100 meter dash final.
Jeneba Tarmoh, left, and Allyson Felix look on after competing in the women's… (Michael Heiman / Getty Images )

EUGENE, Ore. — USA Track and Field officials were meeting late Saturday to determine how to break a dead heat between Jeneba Tarmoh and Allyson Felix for third place in the women's 100 meters at the Olympic track and field trials, with a berth on the London Olympic team at stake.

Tarmoh was initially awarded third ahead of Felix, though the two Los Angeles-based training partners were timed in 11.068 seconds. Timers notified referees of a possible dead heat, leading to a review of the photo finish.

Looking for torso position to determine the finishes and times, officials found one camera had an obscured view and the other camera's view was inconclusive. Jill Geer of USATF said the organization had no tiebreaking procedures for such an occurrence.

Felix, a two-time Olympic silver medalist in the 200, left the track at Hayward Field thinking her dream of an Olympic 100/200 sprint double had ended.

"Fourth is the worst," she said after sobbing for several minutes. "I'm just disappointed. It just felt like I worked really hard and it didn't come together."

Carmelita Jeter won in 10.92, with Tianna Madison second in 10.96.

There was no controversy in the women's 100-meter hurdles. Beijing gold medalist Dawn Harper won in 12.73, followed by Kellie Wells (12.77) and Lolo Jones (12.86), who had harshly criticized her preliminary-round performance.

"My season was going so bad, a lot of people counted me out," Jones said. "I shocked everybody. I was not supposed to make the team."

Bryshon Nellum rebounds

Doctors told standout USC quarter-miler Bryshon Nellum he'd probably never regain his world-class ability after he was shot three times in the legs Oct. 31, 2008, apparently by gang members who mistook him for a rival.

Nellum, who had set national high school records at Long Beach Poly, ignored doctors' doubts. After three surgeries and painful rehabilitation, he ran a personal-best 45.16 in the 400-meter semifinals and advanced to Sunday's final.

"It's a blessing. I thank God every day," he said. "I just need to have faith and work hard."

LaShawn Merritt, the Beijing 400-meter champion, led the field at 44.78. Jeremy Wariner, the 400-meter champion in Athens in 2004, also advanced with a time of 45.27.

The top three finishers Sunday will earn berths to the London Olympics.

"I think I have a good chance. I made the final," Nellum said. "Now I've just got to run."

Joanna Hayes' run ends

Joanna Hayes' Olympic comeback effort ended tearfully but proudly in the semifinals of the women's 100 hurdles, the event she won at the Athens Games.

The 35-year-old Riverside native, who coaches at Harvard Westlake High, took several years off from the sport and gave birth to a daughter 18 months ago. She finished sixth in her semifinal in 12.98 and didn't advance to the final.

"I'm a little emotional because this is it. I love this sport and I love being out there," she said, pausing to wipe tears away.

"I'm not concerned about not being in the final. I'm just overwhelmed with the fact that I came back. I do know that if I could have focused on training all year and not a million other things I think that I could be right there with them. It's good to know that, after all of these years, at this age and everything, it's good to know that it would have been possible."

Caring for her daughter, Zoe, and doing TV commentary and speaking engagements gave her less time to train than many of her younger competitors. But she has no regrets.

"I'm just so blessed that I've been able to touch so many people with my foundation and all the things I'll be doing," she said. "It will just continue on. It doesn't stop here. The competition stops here but maybe I'll compete in masters and set world records or something."

Reese Hoffa moves on

Reese Hoffa, a former indoor and outdoor world champion in the shot put, had the best qualifying throw of 21.22 meters (69 feet 71/2 inches). Adam Nelson, the Olympic silver medalist in 2000 and 2004, didn't get out of the preliminary round.

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