Sprinters grudgingly agree to runoff today
EUGENE, Ore. — Reluctantly, Jeneba Tarmoh will step into the blocks today to break a third-place tie she feels was already decided fair and square.
The young sprinter wants no part of a runoff with training partner Allyson Felix to settle the last spot for the London Games in the women’s 100 meters.
The runoff — a winner-take-all race — will be held at 5 p.m. (PDT) at Hayward Field. It’s not something Tarmoh is looking forward to.
“In my heart of hearts, I just feel like I earned the third spot. I almost feel like I was kind of robbed,” Tarmoh said.
Tarmoh was originally declared the third-place finisher of the event June 23, even going on a celebratory lap around the track, being presented a medal and then showing up at a news conference.
Only after a mandatory drug test did she discover the controversy: that race officials had declared a dead heat.
Now, after not making the team in the 200, Tarmoh has to regroup and step up to the starting line and try to reclaim a spot she thought rightfully belonged to her.
“I’m not that excited at all. This decision was really hard for me to make,” said Tarmoh, who’s eligible to run on the Olympic 400 relay team. “I was pushed into a corner. They said if you don’t make a decision, you give your spot up. I work too hard to just give my spot up. I had to say it was a runoff.”
The controversy in the 100 overshadowed the entire trials simply because USA Track and Field had no protocol in place to deal with a dead heat. USATF officials quickly scrambled to adopt a tiebreaking procedure.
The athletes had a choice between a runoff or a coin flip. They chose to settle matters on the track, not with the flip of a quarter.
Since Felix had already earned a spot in the 200, there was speculation she might simply concede the 100 to Tarmoh. But Felix said the 100 is vital to her preparation for the 200, where she’s a favorite to win Olympic gold.
In other events on Sunday, Wallace Spearmon won the 200 meters in 19.82 seconds, and Michael Tinsley took the 400 hurdles in 48.33, besting reigning Olympic champion Angelo Taylor and defending Olympic silver medalist Kerron Clement.
Leo Manzano won the men’s 1,500 in 3:35.75, followed by former Oregon Ducks teammates Matthew Centrowitz and Andrew Wheating.
On the women’s side, defending outdoor champion Lashinda Demus won the women’s 400 hurdles in 53.98., and Morgan Uceny won the women’s 1,500 in 4:04.59, earning a place on the team with runner-up Shannon Rowbury and third-place finisher Jenny Simpson, the reigning world champion in the event.
Brittney Reese won her fifth straight U.S. title in the long jump with a leap of 23 feet, 51/2 inches. and Brittany Borman won the javelin with a throw of 201-9. Kara Patterson was second at 196-2.
Earlier in the day, Maria Michta won the 20,000-meter race walk in 1:34:53.33 for the lone spot on the team in the event, because no one had the “A” standard.