LSU’s Duncan finishes fourth
EUGENE, Ore. — This time, there was no dead heat.
Allyson Felix ran a lifetime-best 21.69 seconds in the 200-meter final on a rain-soaked track Saturday night. She easily pulled away from the field, no signs of the stress from the last week weighing her down.
LSU sprinter Kimberlyn Duncan missed qualifying for the London Olympics with a fourth-place finish in the event with a time of 22.34.
Still to be determined is Felix’s fate in the 100 meters. Felix and training partner Jeneba Tarmoh finished in a third-place tie last Saturday.
They’re soon going to announce their plans for breaking the tie. But not right now, said Tarmoh, who finished a distant fifth.
Felix was too busy celebrating and soaking up the moment.
Wearing neon yellow compression sleeves on her legs, Felix was easy to spot as she settled into the blocks. She was even easier to detect once she flew off the starting line, jumping out to a commanding lead. She never looked back, smiling as she crossed the finish line and clapping her hands, before raising them high over her head.
Whew. She was in.
Carmelita Jeter finished 0.42 seconds behind and Sanya Richards-Ross even farther back in third to round out the London-bound team.
Now, it’s decision time. So many questions await Felix and Tarmoh.
At the top of the list, and the one everyone is waiting to hear, is what way will they choose to break the tie: A one-race runoff or a flip of the coin? There’s always the possibility that Felix simply surrenders the spot Tarmoh, because she’s already safely into the Olympics in the 200.
On top of that there’s this: When will the race take place and where will it be held?
“I’m going to give her space,” Tarmoh said. “We’re going to sit down together, because it’s in both of our interests.”
In a 100-meter race that’s usually over in 11 seconds, the outcome has lingered on for more than 168 hours.
It’s become the cloud over the trials — even more than the constant rain — because USA Track and Field had no protocol in place to deal with this sort of dead heat. USATF officials quickly scrambled to adopt a tiebreaking procedure.
The organization has been criticized for not having something in place long before the trials.
Every other sport has some sort of carefully worked-out plan. In swimming, there’s swim-offs to break a deadlock.
After six taxing rounds, Felix and Tarmoh will now turn their attention to breaking this tie. They have until the end of trials Sunday to officially make a decision, but there may be some wiggle room. The United States Olympic Committee doesn’t officially need the list of names for the squad until Tuesday.
That’s why their coach, Bobby Kersee, has been pushing for a Tuesday runoff race, if that’s how Felix and Tarmoh want to settle things.
This way, when they step back on the track, they’ll at least have fresh legs.
As it is, both are eligible to be selected to the Olympic 400-meter relay team.
The magnitude of the controversy has spread far beyond traditional sports circles, with the topic being discussed on “CNN” and even “NPR.”
Former sprinter Jon Drummond thinks the attention is fantastic.
“You’ve got two great athletes at the Olympic trials, dead-heated, both pictures showing the same thing and now you have to decide a selection?” said Drummond, who coaches the men’s and women’s relay teams. “This is like a reality show you couldn’t script. This is great for TV, made for TV.”
Especially if they decide to participate in a runoff. Drummond would.
“I’m a junkyard dog. We’re going to the line,” he said.
In other events featuring current and former LSU athletes, Barrett Nugent finished 12th (13.49) in the semifinals of the men’s 110-meter hurdles, while former LSU standout Walter Davis was third in the triple jump (54-9 1/4) but did not qualify for the Olympics.
The women’s 400-meter hurdles final, featuring LSU’s Cassandra Tate, will be run Sunday.
Because of all the attention, these two sprinters will forever have a place in track lore. Felix is a familiar name to even average track fans. She’s one of the faces of track, the one trotted out on a routine basis to promote the sport.
She’s happy to do just that.
On the track, she’s even more graceful. Felix runs so effortlessly — her head hardly moving and her hands in perfect rhythm.
She’s more of a 200-meter specialist, winning silver medals in the last two Olympics. She wants gold, though, and her entire training routine is built around making that happen.
“I’ve had eight years to think about being a silver medalist. This time I want to win,” she recently said in an interview.
Fans are quickly learning about the 22-year-old, who burst on the scene last season when she finished third in the 200 at U.S. championships to earn a spot on the team bound for South Korea.
A week ago, Jeter won the 100 and Tianna Madison finished second. Only, they’re footnotes to the tie between Felix and Tarmoh, who each finished in 11.068 seconds.
Two cameras were trained on the finish, but neither could help break the tie. One of the images was obscured and other showed that both sprinters were exactly even when their torsos — which determine times — hit the line.
Bolt, Blake showdown
In Kingston, Jamaica, the stage is set for Blake vs. Bolt, Part II.
Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake each won their 200-meter heats at Jamaican Olympic trials Saturday night to advance to the final, where Blake will try to make it 2 for 2 against the world-record holder.
Bolt was unfazed by a false start that delayed his semifinal heat. He won in 20.26 seconds.
A few minutes before that, Blake crossed the line in 19.93 seconds to win his semifinal.
Blake ran the 100 meters in 9.75 seconds Friday night to beat Bolt by 0.11 in their first meeting since last year’s world championship, when Blake won after Bolt’s false start.
Alleyne-Forte an Olympian
LSU senior Ade Alleyne-Forte was chosen Friday as a member of Trinidad & Tobago’s 4x400-meter relay team.
Alleyne-Forte finished sixth while running a personal-best 46.13 seconds in the 400-meter final at the Sagicor National Open Championships.
Ex-Tech thrower qualifies
Former Louisiana Tech thrower Jason Morgan punched his ticket to the Olympic Games in London on Saturday with a second-place finish in the discus at the Olympic Trials at National Stadium in his native Jamaica.
Morgan finished second overall in the discus with a throw of 203 feet, 2 inches. He needed to finish in the top three.
Meanwhile Louisiana Tech sprinter Michael Coleman finished sixth in his heat of the 200-meter semifinals as his bid to make Team USA came to a close.
With a time of 21.08, Coleman finished 16th overall.
LSU sports information and Louisiana Tech sports information contributed to this report.