U.S. Olympic 100-Meter Spot Comes Down to Historic Run-Off

The final spot on the U.S. team for the 100-meter Olympic sprint will be decided today in an unprecedented run-off between Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh.

The head-to-head race in Eugene, Oregon, comes nine days after the two training partners tied for third place in the women’s event at the U.S. Olympic trials. The run-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. New York time and will be televised by NBC, with the winner advancing to the London Olympics.

“We’re really excited that this decision will be on the track and we’ll both get to fight for our spots,” Felix said in a televised interview with NBC. Tarmoh is reconsidering her decision to take part in the run-off, the Associated Press reported, citing a person with knowledge of the situation.

Felix and Tarmoh each finished the June 23 100-meter final with a time of 11.068 seconds, initially leaving USA Track and Field without a protocol to determine the third Olympic qualifier. The race was won by Carmelita Jeter in 10.92 seconds, followed by Tianna Madison in 10.96.

Tarmoh, 22, at first was announced as the third-place finisher, giving her what she thought was an Olympic berth after beating Felix by 0.0001. After officials reviewed video, they announced the finish as a dead heat.

The following day, procedures were released that provided for the possibility of a run-off or a coin toss if one of the runners didn’t agree to resign her position.

The decision to conduct a run-off didn’t come until after both women competed two days ago in the 200 meters, a race won by Felix in a time of 21.69 seconds to break the 24-year-old meet record held by Florence Griffith-Joyner. Tarmoh was fifth.

Relay Teammates

Both runners, who will head to London as members of the sprint relay team, said they never gave serious consideration to letting the final individual spot be decided on a coin flip.

“Neither of us wanted it to come to that,” said Felix, a two-time Olympic 200-meter silver medalist. “We both worked extremely hard and we’re teammates. We’ve seen each other each day struggling and we couldn’t let it come to that.”

Felix, 26, is ranked ninth in the world in the 100 meters, according to All-Athletics.com, while Tarmoh is 66th.

Should Felix and Tarmoh tie in tonight’s rematch, a coin toss would then determine who races the 100 meters in London. The games begin July 27.

Wallace Spearmon won the men’s 200 meters in 19.82 seconds yesterday, earning a trip to London and another shot at Jamaica’s Usain Bolt four years after a lane violation cost him a bronze medal in Beijing.

“That’s definitely something that’s been on my mind for a while,” said Spearmon, who finished ahead of Maurice Mitchell and Isiah Young. “If I didn’t make the team this year that would have been on my mind for the rest of my life. I don’t take my second chances lightly.”

Bolt Beaten

Olympic champion Bolt finished second to Yohan Blake yesterday in the 200 meters final at the Jamaican team trials. Blake also upset Bolt in the 100 meters on June 29 by winning in 9.75 seconds, the fastest time this year.

Michael Tinsley won the men’s 400-meter hurdles at the U.S. trials yesterday, finishing ahead of reigning Olympic champion Angelo Taylor and 2008 silver medalist Kerron Clement.

Lashinda Demus won the women’s 400-meter hurdles and will be joined in London by Georganne Moline and T’Erea Brown.

Leonel Manzano won the men’s 1,500 meters with Morgan Uceny finishing first in the women’s race. Brittney Reese claimed her fifth straight U.S. long jump title, and Brittany Borman won the women’s javelin throw.

Reigning Olympic gymnastics all-around champion Nastia Liukin failed to qualify for this year’s U.S. women’s team, a squad that features Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mason Levinson in New York at mlevinson@bloomberg.net; Erik Matuszewski in New York at matuszewski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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