A run-off for the final spot? Maybe a game of rock, paper, scissors?
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With no protocol in place, there’s no guessing how they’ll break the tie for the third and final spot in the 100 meters.
Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh finished in a dead heat for the last US spot in the London Games at the Olympic trials, each finishing in 11.068 seconds Saturday.
USA Track and Field officials were meeting late into the night to sort out how to break this sort of tie and who will join Carmelita Jeter, the winner in 10.92 seconds, and second-place Tianna Madison. Spokeswoman Jill Geer said she didn’t know when a decision would be reached.
Originally, Tarmoh was declared the third-place finisher and the official scoring said she had edged training partner Felix by 0.0001 seconds. But the results were reviewed, and after a lengthy delay, the dead heat was announced.
In swimming, ties are settled with swim-offs between the two deadlocked opponents. Track has tiebreaking procedures for many of its events, as well, but this is a special case for which there is no written solution — a tie for the last spot on the Olympic team.
The USATF said in a release that two cameras are used to determine photo-finishes, one on the outside of the track and another on the inside.
In Saturday’s race, the image from the outside camera was inconclusive for determining the finish because both runners’ arms obscured their torsos.
The torso position is used to determine the finish.
The image from the inside camera, shot at 3,000 frames per second, was analyzed by timers and referees, who declared the tie.
Tarmoh was ecstatic right after the race, believing she finally eclipsed the sprinter she strives to keep up with every day in practice. She was even carrying around an American flag, which is handed to the Olympians.
Soon after, word began to leak out that Tarmoh’s spot wasn’t as secure as she thought.
In another corner of the venue, Felix was trying to come to terms with the idea she wasn’t going to represent the US in the 100. Asked what was going through her mind, Felix simply said, ”Disappointment. That’s the only thing.”
Felix, who chose the 100 over the 400 as her second event, does have a backup plan. Her signature event is the 200, which will be held next week. Felix is one of the favorites to finish in the top three. Tarmoh also is declared for the 200.
”The 200 has been my focus this year,” Felix said, when she still thought she had finished fourth. ”But I can’t lie. I was really hoping that it would come together in the 100.”