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Sun Apr 20 12:49:19 SAST 2014

Felix to run 100-200 in London after Tarmoh quits

Jim Slater, Sapa-AFP | 03 July, 2012 10:020 Comments
2012 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials - Day 9
Allyson Felix reacts after winning the women's 200 metre race on day nine of the US Olympic trials at the Hayward Field on June 30, 2012 in Eugene, Oregon
Image by: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

Allyson Felix will run in the 100 and 200 meters at the London Olympics after Jeneba Tarmoh backed out of a planned Monday run-off for the last 100m berth, USA Track and Field announced.

Tarmoh sent an e-mail to officials on Monday morning saying that she was withdrawing from the run-off, which had been scheduled for Monday afternoon to settle a women’s 100m final deadlock for third place from nine days earlier.

Tarmoh and Felix shared third, and the last Olympic berth on offer, after a photo finish proved inconclusive and each was timed in 11.068 seconds on June 23 during the US Olympic Track and Field Trials, which concluded on Sunday.

“I Jeneba Tarmoh have decided to decline my 3rd place position in the 100m dash to Allyson Felix,” Tarmoh wrote in an e-mail forwarded from Tarmoh’s agent, Kimberly Holland, to USA Track and Field president Stephanie Hightower.

“I understand that with this decision I am no longer running the 100m dash in the Olympic Games and will be an alternate for the event.

“As an alternate I understand that I will be asked to run if another 100m runner decides not to for personal reasons, and/or on the 4x100m relay.” 

Tarmoh, who secured a trip to London as part of the US Olympic 4x100m relay pool by virtue of her top-four 100m finish, did not explain why she changed her mind after agreeing to the runoff.

Felix and Tarmoh, both sponsored by Nike, are training partners under coach Bob Kersee, who was adamant that he did not want to have a run-off until Tuesday because of the potential injury risk to both women after they ran Thursday through Saturday in 200m heats.

On her Twitter account, Tarmoh posted, “Big thanks to friends and family who support my decision” and even a critic’s tweet to her that said, “if u felt u won the 1st time then prove it in the runoff... u don’t deserve to go to the Olympics anyway”, but still gave no clue as to what changed her mind.

Tarmoh, 22, has spoken to her former high school coach, Steve Nelson, who told the San Jose Mercury-News that while Tarmoh does not blame Felix, “it has definitely affected her emotionally... This is Jeneba against the world. She feels like it’s everybody against her.” 

Felix said in a statement on Monday she wanted the run-off to legitimize her place in London in the event.

“The situation has been difficult for everyone involved,” Felix said. “I had accepted the USATF decision and was prepared to run. I wanted to earn my spot on this team and not have it conceded to me, so I share in everyone’s disappointment that this runoff will not happen.

“All I can do now is turn my focus to London.” 

Felix, the 2004 and 2008 Olympic 200m runner-up, easily booked her berth in the 200 at London on Saturday by winning the final in 21.69, the sixth-fastest time in event history and the best time in the world since 1998.

“I guess it was all about fighting to make the team,” Felix said of her effort. “It has been an emotional time trying to make this team.” 

The e-mailed ending brought a bizarre finish to a soap-opera tale that began with Tarmoh having been shown third on the stadium scoreboard in 11.07 and her thinking she had taken a London spot for nearly an hour after the race.

USA Track and Field had no protocol in place to settle such a deadlock so in consultation with athletes and the US Olympic Committee (USOC) devised a system in 24 hours that allowed for one athlete to back out, a coin flip or a run-off.

Officials also set a deadline of Sunday for a resolution and Kersee wanted to wait until after the 200 to settle the matter.

On Sunday, Kersee, Felix and Tarmoh met with USA Track and Field officials and they compromised on staging a Monday run-off, allowing the organisation to meet a Monday deadline to submit the Olympic track roster to the USOC.

“We are disappointed that Jeneba has changed her mind,” Hightower said. “We all worked hard to reach a consensus on the tiebreaker.”

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