EUGENE, Ore. – Justin Gatlin would pick a runoff, reluctantly. So would Maurice Greene, who would do a coin toss as a last resort.
Everybody has an opinion – even Olympic gold medalists – about USA Track and Field’s hastily unveiled options for breaking a third-place tie between Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh, who finished in a dead heat in the 100-meter final at last weekend’s Olympic trials.
On Tuesday, three days after they raced, USATF still has no idea when it will be resolved.
The sprinters have until Sunday, when the trials end, to decide if they want a runoff – a winner-take-all race to break the tie – or a flip of a coin to determine who gets the last spot on the London-bound team. One of them can simply bow out, too.
“I honestly can’t tell you why a protocol wasn’t in place,” USATF President Stephanie Hightower said. “The likelihood of it happening didn’t cross anybody’s minds.”
Surprising, since this has happened before – to Hightower, no less. At the 1984 Olympic trials, she finished in a three-way tie for second place in the hurdles. A grainy photo was used to break the tie and she was the odd person out, failing to earn a spot.
So far, Felix and Tarmoh have been pretty much mum on the matter. Their teammates have not.
“To run the 100-meter final at the Olympic trials and for it to be decided on a coin toss?” Gatlin said. “It blows my mind.”