Coach for Felix, Tarmoh Favors Runoff to Break Tie

To decide anything right now, the coach said, isn't fair to Felix and Tarmoh

Sunday, Jun 24, 2012  |  Updated 7:26 PM EDT
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In this handout photo provided by the USTF, Jeneba Tarmoh (bottom, lane 1) and Allyson Felix cross the finish line at exactly the same time in the women's 100 meter dash final during Day Two of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials. The USTF is still determining how to break the tie. Only one of the women will make the Olympic team.

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Bobby Kersee is in favor of a runoff to break a 100-meter tie between his two sprinters, Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh.

Just not now.

Maybe down the road, on the last day of the Olympic trials even. Or perhaps a few weeks later, on a track somewhere to be determined.

To decide anything right now, the coach said, isn't fair to Felix and Tarmoh, especially because they are both running the 200 later this week.

Felix and Tarmoh finished in a dead heat for the last U.S. spot in the 100 to the London Games, each leaning across the finish line in 11.068 seconds Saturday.

With no protocol in place, there's no guessing how USA Track and Field plans to break the tie. The organization is still determining a procedure to settle the situation.

"I've heard a bunch of stories about what they might do and I'm not sure what's true or not," Kersee told The Associated Press on Sunday.

The one that scares him, though, is having a runoff before the 200 starts its rounds on Thursday. That simply would not sit well with him.

"Just leave them alone until after they run the 200 meters and then come up with a decision, how they're going to figure out the way they want to settle this," he said. "This is a situation to be dealt with later, after you give the athletes an opportunity to focus on what they need to do, what they've been waiting around to do for four years."

The 200 finals are Saturday and the trials conclude the following day.

Being the coach of both, Kersee knows he has a conflict of interest in this situation. But he insisted he's only concerned with one thing: Doing right by his runners.

"You don't have to bother us about this now," he said. "You can wait until later."

Originally, Tarmoh was declared the third-place finisher and the official scoring said she had edged training partner Felix by 0.0001 seconds. But the results were reviewed, and after a lengthy delay, the dead heat was announced.

In swimming, ties are settled with swim-offs between the two deadlocked opponents. Track has tiebreaking procedures for many of its events, as well, but this is a special case for which there is no written solution — a tie for the last spot on the Olympic team.

Ever seen anything as crazy as this?

"I've been doing this for 32 years and no," Kersee said.

The USATF said in a release that two cameras are used to determine photo-finishes, one on the outside of the track and another on the inside.

In Saturday's race, the image from the outside camera was inconclusive for determining the finish because both runners' arms obscured their torsos.

The torso position is used to determine the finish.

The image from the inside camera, shot at 3,000 frames per second, was analyzed by timers and referees, who declared the tie.

In Kersee's opinion, there really is no rush to solve this issue.

However, should USATF decide to settle the tie with a runoff, Kersee won't be at the track for the race.

Sure, he will warm Felix and Tarmoh up. And yes, he will give them some last-minute advice.

But then he will head for the exit.

"I'll go on a long walk," Kersee said. "When I come back, I'll get the news on who did what."

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