AP Source: Tarmoh may reconsider 100 runoff

Associated Press
Allyson Felix, right, celebrates her win in the women's 200 meters at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials Saturday, June 30, 2012, in Eugene, Ore. Felix won the 200 but she and Jeneba Tarmoh, walking off at left rear, tied for third place in the 100 meters. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
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Allyson Felix, right, celebrates her win in the women's 200 meters at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field …

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — The runoff to settle a third-place tie in the women's 100 meters at the U.S. track trials may not make it to the starting line on Monday.

Sprinter Jeneba Tarmoh is reconsidering her decision to take part in the race against training partner Allyson Felix, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement was made. A message was left for an official at USA Track and Field.

The runoff — a winner-take-all race — is scheduled to be held at 8 p.m. EDT — 5 p.m. local time — at Hayward Field. The winner earns the last spot in the event for the London Games.

Tarmoh only reluctantly agreed to the runoff in the first place. She felt that she won her spot fair and square on the track eight days ago.

"In my heart of hearts, I just feel like I earned the third spot," she said Sunday. "I almost feel like I was kind of robbed."

Tarmoh leaned across the finish line and looked up to see her name on the scoreboard in the third spot behind winner Carmelita Jeter and runner-up Tianna Madison. The 22-year-old even took a celebratory lap around the track, waving an American flag. She received a medal and conducted a news conference.

Then, she found out about the dead heat. From reporters, no less.

The situation has been a debacle since Felix and Tarmoh crossed the line in an identical time of 11.068 seconds. USATF had no protocol in place to resolve such a deadlock and quickly scrambled to adopt a tiebreaking procedure.

The options were either a runoff, coin flip or one athlete conceding the spot to the other.

The athletes and their agents met with USATF representatives at a hotel Sunday to work out a deal and Felix and Tarmoh chose to settle matters on the track.

Tarmoh, however, was clearly unhappy with the choice.

"This decision was really hard for me to make," said Tarmoh, who didn't qualify in her other event, the 200 on Saturday night, but will be eligible for 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."

USATF has drawn criticism for not having policies in place long before the trials. Every other sport has a plan. In swimming, for instance, there are swim-offs to break ties.

Bobby Kersee, who coaches both sprinters, has been outspoken on the tiebreaking tumult and pushed for a Tuesday competition, just to give them more time to recover from two races and six rounds. The United States Olympic Committee doesn't officially need the list of names for the squad until that day anyway.

The sprinters have the stage to themselves on Monday and the runoff would be a boon for track. It's scheduled to be shown in prime time on NBC in conjunction with the network's coverage of the swimming trials.

"This will reintroduce people to the sport and showcase world-class athletes and great competition," new USATF CEO Max Siegel said. "I actually think (a runoff) is the best way to solve it. It's a reflection of both of their competitive spirits. They want to be fair and prove what they've worked hard."

And then when it looked like everything was heading toward a showdown, Tarmoh threw a wrinkle into the plans just 18 hours before they were going to step into the starting blocks.

Sports Illustrated was the first to report that Tarmoh was thinking of not running.

Felix said her legs were feeling a little exhausted, especially after turning in a personal-best of 21.69 in winning the 200, her signature event and one she is favored to win in London. It was an electric performance that was almost overshadowed by the flap.

After she finished, all anyone wanted to know was how she was going to break the tie in the 100.

"I didn't get to really enjoy it," Felix said. "As soon as I came off (the track), that's the first time that I actually thought about the process. Of course, I wasn't thinking I wanted to do a coin toss, but that's the first time I sat down and went through things in my head."

Felix didn't realize how big of deal the controversy was until after the 200. She was sequestered from social media until that race and had no idea the topic was being discussed on shows such as "CNN" and National Public Radio.

"Any attention our sport gets is good," Felix said.

Before the news broke of Tarmoh reconsidering her decision to race, Felix issued a caution of her own.

"If anything feels off whatsoever, I'm just going to speak up and have to pull out of it," she said. "We're both not feeling our greatest."

For Tarmoh, there's also an emotional element. She went from the high of thinking she made the team immediately after the 100, to the low of having to claim her spot all over again.

"I went to bed so happy and then I woke up to do something I don't want to do at all," Tarmoh said.

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