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The third and final spot on the USA Track and Field Olympic team in the women's 100 meters could be determined by a run-off or coin toss after two runners ended their trial in a dead heat.
Allyson Felix, a seasoned U.S. track star and two-time Olympic silver medalist, and Jeneba Tarmoh, her training partner, both crossed the finish line at 11.068 seconds at the United States Olympic track and field trials on Saturday, The Associated Press reported.
They have been given a choice: a coin toss or a run-off. If they disagree on what option to choose, it will be a run-off. If the runners decline to choose between themselves, then a coin toss it is.
A decision must be made this week because a tiebreaker would need to take place on Sunday, the last day of the meet, USA Track and Field spokesperson Jill Geer told the AP.
Until now, USATF officials had no protocol to break a tie for the last spot, the AP reported. After the tie was announced, they spent 24 hours negotiating the new regulations for the unexpected scenario.
Bobby Kersee, coach for both Felix and Tarmoh, told the AP he does not want his athletes to be distracted by the process. “I'm asking them to focus on the 200 meters, go through drug testing and hopefully they'll both make the team in the 200 meters," Kersee said. "Then we'll meet as a group, we'll meet with USA Track and Field.”
Though he has no decision-making power, Kersee said he prefers a run-off. "Nine times out of 10, most athletes aren't going to want to flip a coin," Kersee told the AP. "Would you go to the Super Bowl and after two overtimes or what have you, have the referees take both coaches to the middle of the field and say, 'We're going to flip to see who wins the Super Bowl?' I don't see that."
Kersee will not be present during the tiebreaker, he told the AP. He will warm up Felix and Tarmoh and give them a pep talk, but he will “go on a long walk” after that and hear the results when he returns.