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100 Meters Runoff To Decide 3rd Place Finisher

Jul 2, 2012
Originally published on July 2, 2012 7:23 am



The 100 meters is the fastest running event in Olympic track and field. But for the last nine days, the women's 100 at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field trials in Eugene, Oregon has been stalled by a much talked about tie. Today, finally, a resolution. Sprinters Alyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh will race in a run-off to break their tie for third place in the 100 they first ran two Saturday's ago. First one to cross the finish line today makes the U.S. women's 100 team. NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman joins us to talk about this.

Good morning, Tom.


MONTAGNE: So tell us what's going to happen today exactly.

Well, exactly 5 P.M. Pacific Time two women alone on the track, live national TV, the crowd at Hayward Field in Eugene gets in free. And the weird sight of fans filing in for basically an 11 second event.

GOLDMAN: Now, neither athlete is really thrilled about this runoff. In fact, Allyson Felix was quoted as saying if she lines up for the race and doesn't feel quite right, she's out, you know. She doesn't want to risk injury this close to London.

The decision on what to do was delayed over a week because a coach for both these athletes wanted them to focus on the 200. Once that was over, there were discussions, a two-hour meeting Sunday. Finally, they came to the agreement about the runoff. They also had the option of a coin flip or of one of the athletes forfeiting their position. Neither did that. So we've got today.

MONTAGNE: And there has there has been a lot of criticism directed at the sports governing body, USA Track and Field, for not being better prepared to handle a tie in the 100, although I must say it's not something anybody really expected.

GOLDMAN: It's not. And as, you know, USA Track and Field didn't really expect it, because they say it had never happened before, although is actually did happen in 1980 in a men's hurdles event. There was a tie for third in the Olympic trials. But since the U.S. boycotted the 1980 Olympics that year there was no need to resolve the tie.

So right after the tie for third in the women's 100, the USA Track and Field was left to scramble and figure out the tiebreaking plan, which it did the day after the race. Now, a track spokesperson says the organization has learned through this the importance of having all your procedures in place. There's the implication that there will be rules changes and that this kind of delay and indecision won't happen again.

MONTAGNE: And as we've been talking about the Olympic trial sprints, U.S. sprint rival Jamaica has been having its own Olympic trials. And there have been surprises there. Tell us about that.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, well, the big surprise, the unbeatable Usain Bolt was beaten twice at the trials by his countryman Yohan Blake. He's the new it guy for men's sprints in London. So remember that name - Yohan Blake. He beat Bolt in the 100 and 200. Bolt, of course, is the reigning Olympic champ in both. And he's the world record holder in both.

But now there are questions. You know, was he taking it easy at the trials. Is he out of shape? Is he hurt? Will he use this as extra incentive in London? The plot thickens.

MONTAGNE: And, Tom, before I let you go, let's bring Tiger Woods into this.


GOLDMAN: Why not?

MONTAGNE: Let's talk about golf for just a few seconds. He's obviously playing better and better golf. He won another tournament.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, how about that? He won again. And this is the guy - even Tiger said I remember there was a time when people were saying I can never win again. Well, Tiger is now the first on the tour this year to win three events. He won yesterday at Congressional in the D.C. area as the 74th win of his career, moved him past Jack Nicklaus into second place on the PGA Tour list.

The guy he was playing with, Bo Van Pelt, said, you know, Tiger's won three. He led after the second round of the U.S. Open. I mean, Tiger's playing the best golf in the world right now. And, Renee, it's been a while since we've heard that.

MONTAGNE: Well, it's been good talking to you, Tom.

GOLDMAN: Thanks.

MONTAGNE: NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman.


MONTAGNE: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.