The track and field Olympic Trials this past weekend were pretty amazing. Ashton Eaton set a world record in the decathlon in front of his home town fans, we saw amazing performances by Galen Rupp and Sanya Richards-Ross, and we witnessed the unexpected if not impossible – in the finals of the women’s 100 meter, there was a dead-heat, tie for 3rd place between Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh.
Unfortunately there was not procedure in place to immediately determine the 3rd and final qualifying spot for the Olympic team. And for nearly 24 hours, officials at USA Track and Field, the USOC, athletes and coaches huddled together to come up with a fair solution. Here is the press release announcing how the tie will be broken.
The gist is that the two athletes will choose between a race-off or a coin flip to decide the third and final position. However it will likely be decided AFTER the women compete in the 200 meter later this week.
In a perfect world, the athletes and the rest of the track and field world would have known this procedure immediately following the race, but alas it’s not a perfect world – and the resulting procedure seems pretty reasonable to me. But not everyone seems to think so as there is quite a bit of hand wringing and second guessing going on – see here, here, and here.
Here’s my hope – I hope that the results of the 200 meter race do NOT create a situation where one of the women feels obligated to sacrifice her opportunity to compete in the 100 meter dash. These women should compete on the track in front of what will be a huge TV audience. They both deserve that chance regardless of the wishes of a coach, sponsors, USATF, or the USOC.