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Maurice Greene favors showdown race to break tie in women's 100

The four-time Olympic sprint medalist says NBC should televise event to break deadlock between Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh for Games berth, and it would supersede any matchup he took part in.

June 26, 2012|By Helene Elliott
  • Jeneba Tarmoh, left, and Allyson Felix look on after tying in the women's 100-meter final at the U.S. Olympic trials on Saturday.
Jeneba Tarmoh, left, and Allyson Felix look on after tying in the women's… (Michael Heiman / Getty Images )

EUGENE, Ore. — Maurice Greene, a four-time Olympic sprint medalist and five-time world champion, never lacked titles or ego. But he said a race to break the deadlock between Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh for the final U.S. women's 100-meter berth at the London Games would eclipse any of his grudge matches, including his 200-meter showdown against Michael Johnson at the 2000 U.S. Olympic trials.

"This will supersede every other race," Greene said Tuesday, a day off in this year's trials. "This means something. This is for the last spot. This is far greater than every other rivalry that you have even thought of, that you could even see. Because there, it was me and Michael and we were getting on the team. It wasn't for the last spot. We didn't run a race and tie. This is either 'I'm on the team' or 'I am not.'

"This is a bigger magnitude because they raced once and it ended in a tie. So now this third-place spot is up for grabs."

Johnson and Greene had qualified for the Sydney Games in other events before that 200 final. Both pulled up lame and neither finished.

Officials of USA Track and Field, after consulting with the U.S. Olympic Committee, proposed breaking the Tarmoh-Felix tie through a runoff or a coin flip. It could also be resolved if one declines the spot, though that's unlikely to happen. Felix and Tarmoh are scheduled to compete again Thursday in the preliminaries of a deep 200 field.

Greene called the 100 "the most glamorized event" of the Olympics and said the controversy over the dead heat has been good for the sport because it has generated attention. His solution: a nationally televised runoff, probably on Sunday.

"You tell me, NBC couldn't sell that to all its sponsors and put on a 30-minute show about it? Because they're going to talk about it and everything else," he said. "I say tell NBC to give them $2 million and have a runoff … and it's going to be highly publicized and they're going to get great publicity from it. And may the best woman win."

Scouting reports

Amy Deem, coach of the U.S. women's Olympic team, said the delay in deciding the 100-meter entrants won't affect the makeup of the relay pool. She said the names of winner Carmelita Jeter, runner-up Tianna Madison, Tarmoh and Felix will be submitted along with two alternates.

Deem also declined to say whether USA Track and Field's goal of 30 Olympic medals remains realistic given the trials results to date, with four days' competition left. "I don't want to do a prediction, but I think we have an opportunity to bring home a lot of medals," she said.

Men's coach Andrew Valmon, a two-time Olympic relay gold medalist, said with many potential medal-producing events still to come — including the shotput, men's 200- and 400-meter hurdles — he's pleased with what he has seen. He's even happy about the generally rainy conditions.

"The weather here and the way the athletes competed is conducive to I think how we're going to compete in London," he said, "so I think nothing is going to stop the team."

No second chances

Bryan Clay rebuffed a social media-driven effort to give him another chance to defend his Olympic decathlon title in London despite his 12th-place trials finish, saying USATF acted properly in nominating only new world-record holder Ashton Eaton and trials runner-up Trey Hardee to the team.

Clay said he'd "give almost anything" to compete. "On the other hand, my love of the sport compels me to preserve its integrity," he said in a statement. "For this reason, and though it pains me, I believe that the USATF committee's decision to take only two decathletes to London is the right one."

helene.elliott@latimes.com

twitter.com/helenenothelen

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