The runoff scheduled to settle the third-place tie in the women’s 100 meters at the U.S. track trials will not be happening after all, as Jebena Tarmoh has decided not to run, her high school coach Steve Nelson confirmed with the San Jose Mercury News.
The winner-take-all runoff between Tarmoh and her training partner Allyson Felix, who are both coached by Bob Kersee, was scheduled to take place today at 8 p.m. ET at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, but Tarmoh declined to participate. Tarmoh will make the team in the 400 m, while Felix won the 200 m to make the team, so both ladies will be traveling to London.
According to an ESPN source, Tarmoh didn’t want to agree to the runoff to begin with, claiming that she won her spot fair and square the first time.
Tarmoh was upfront about her feelings on Sunday, saying, “In my heart of hearts, I just feel like I earned the third spot. I almost feel like I was kind of robbed.”
Tarmoh was declared the winner of the race and even received a third place medal behind winner Carmelita Jeter and runner-up Tianna Madison before being informed of the dead heat. Because the U.S. Track and Field officials had no plan in place the two sprinters were given a choice of three options: coin flip, runoff, or one person concede their spot on the team.
“I was pushed into a corner,” Tarmoh said. “They said if you don’t make a decision, you give your spot up. I work too hard to just give my spot up. I had to say it was a runoff.”
Felix has insisted since the runoff was announced that if her body doesn’t feel up to it she would pull out of the race. Felix said her legs were feeling exhausted after posting a personal best in the 200. “If anything feels off whatsoever, I’m just going to speak up and have to pull out of it,” Felix told reporters. “We’re both not feeling our greatest.”
U.S. Track and Field CEO Max Siegal thinks the race would be great exposure for the sport. “This will reintroduce people to the sport and showcase world-class athletes and great competition,” he said. “I actually think (a runoff) is the best way to solve it. It’s a reflection of both of their competitive spirits. They want to be fair and prove that they’ve worked hard.”
But Tarmoh’s high school coach from San Jose, Nelson, said the team officials changed the rules to favor Felix because she’s the sport’s biggest star in the country.
“This is a Nike and NBC Sports deal,” Nelson told the Mercury News. “This is Jeneba against the world. She feels like it’s everybody against her.”
Nelson said the sport often has decided ties by determining whose chest was first.
“We want the same rules followed now as they have in previous years,” Nelson added. “Why should rules change now because Allyson Felix is great?”