Uncertainty surrounding the results of an 11-second race that led to nine days of controversy came to an end Monday when Jeneba Tarmoh told U.S. Track and Field officials that she will not compete in a run-off against Santa Clarita's Allyson Felix to determine the third and final Olympic 100m qualifying spot.
The 100m run-off was scheduled for Monday evening, nine days after Tarmoh and training partner Felix crossed the line in a dead-heat June 23 at the U.S. Track and Field Trials. Tarmoh and Felix, who competed at USC, were scheduled to go head-to-head at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., but Tarmoh told U.S. Track and Field officials about her decision to withdraw just hours before the tiebreaker.
"I Jeneba Tarmoh have decided to decline my 3rd place position in the 100m dash to Allyson Felix," Tarmoh said in an e-mail forwarded by her agent to track and field officials. "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.”
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Officials decided on the tiebreaker Sunday, about a week after the women's 100-meter race in which Felix and Tarmoh crossed the line in 11.07 seconds. The other option was to flip a coin.
"We are disappointed that Jeneba has changed her mind regarding her position on the Olympic Team,” said USATF president and chairman Stephanie Hightower. “We all worked hard to reach a consensus on the tiebreaker, but we know that Allyson, Carmelita and Tianna will represent Team USA well.
The top-three finishers in the 100m qualify for the London Olympics, meaning a run-off would determine who will join winner Carmelita Jeter, who competed at Cal State Dominguez Hills, and runner-up Tianna Madison in London.
Tarmoh, 22, was initially listed in third on the scoreboard immediately after the June 23 race and official scoring indicated she finished 0.0001 seconds ahead of the 26-year-old Felix. But after reviewing the photo finish, officials declared a dead-heat.
Both sprinters train with coach Bobby Kersee, who wanted the 100-meter tie-breaker to be decided after the two athletes competed in the 200-meter race, which Felix won Saturday with a personal best of 21.69 seconds. That's the fourth-fastest time clocked by an American.
"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.
"Once this is over, I'll be happy about it."
Tarmoh was fifth in the 200m race. Both competitors are part of the United States' six-member 4x100-meter relay team pool.
After a week in which the sprinters competed under a shadow of uncertainty, Felix, Tarmoh and their agents met Sunday at a hotel with USATF representatives Sunday to work out the tiebreaker.
"In my heart of hearts, I just feel like I earned the third spot," Tarmoh told the Associated Press. "I almost feel like I was kind of robbed.''