U.S. Olympic track and field trials: Allyson Felix dominates in 200 meters, is set to mee t about tie with Jeneba Tarmoh in 100

June 30, 2012

Allyson Felix left no doubts this time.

One week after finishing in a third-place tie in the women’s 100 meters, Felix blew away the field in the 200 on Saturday at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials, winning with a blistering time of 21.69 seconds, the third-fastest time ever posted by an American. No one in the world, in fact, has run faster since Marion Jones’s 21.62-second finish in 1998.

“I was thrilled with my race,” said Felix, a 26-year-old who took silver in the 200 at the 2008 Olympics. “It felt like everything came together at the right time.”

While the 200 finish was never in question, there was still no resolution to the third-place tie between Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh from seven days earlier. The runners and their coach, Bobby Kersee, were scheduled to meet with U.S.A. Track and Field officials later Saturday night to discuss the matter.

In the 100 last weekend, both Felix and Tarmoh crossed the finish line in 11.068 seconds, and USATF officials said they had no way to break the tie. The organization devised new procedures and hoped to determine a winner with either a run-off or a coin toss before the trials conclude Sunday.

Neither Felix nor Tarmoh expressed a preference to reporters Saturday night in how to break the tie. “As of now, I just want it to be over with,” Tarmoh said.

Tarmoh, 22, finished fifth in Saturday’s 200, which means her only chance to represent the United States at the London Games is to qualify in the 100 or be selected for a relay team. If there’s to be a run-off, USATF wants to stage it Sunday, but Kersee said that’s too soon for either athlete, each of whom ran three races in the previous three days.

“They’re not going to run tomorrow,” Kersee said told reporters Saturday night. “That’s not even in question.”

Felix said Saturday night that she was “physically and emotionally drained at this point,” but neither runner seemed interested in conceding the third-place spot in the 100.

“I think the biggest thing about this is that you work hard for it,” Felix said. “She worked hard, I worked hard. We both are very deserving.”

Neither was made available to reporters until the conclusion of Saturday’s race, and both said they had tried to focus solely on the 200 in the past week. Tarmoh said she and Felix, who train together, didn’t even discuss the matter.

“I was like, ‘Allyson, what’s going on?’ I’m still kind of a rookie and everything. I really don’t understand what a dead heat is, what a run-off is, what they want us to do,” Tarmoh said. “I asked her, and she was like, ‘Don’t worry about it. We’ll deal with it later.’ ”

Carmelita Jeter, who won the women’s 100, finished second to Felix in Saturday’s 200 with a time of 22.11, and Sanya Richards-Ross finished third with a time of 22.22. Richards-Ross, who already won the 400, is the first American woman to qualify for the Olympics in the 200 and 400 since Valerie Brisco-Hooks in 1984.

Also Saturday, Aries Merritt earned his ticket to London, posting the world’s fastest time of the year in the men’s 110-meter hurdles. He won the race with a time of 12.93 seconds, his personal best. Jason Richardson (12.98) was second and Jeffrey Porter (13.08) third.

David Oliver, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist from Howard University, finished fifth with a time of 13.17.

High-jumper Chaunte Lowe is headed to her third Olympics after clearing a height of 6 feet 7 inches and besting the field. The 28-year-old will try to improve on her sixth-place finish at the 2008 Summer Games. “This is the first time I’m going to the Olympics where I have a goal of winning the gold,” she said.

Second-place finisher Brigetta Barrett also jumped 6-7, followed by a familiar face. Amy Acuff didn’t compete in 2010 or ’11, but she placed third Saturday (6-3¾) and earned her way to a fifth Olympics.

The trials conclude Sunday with eight final events, including the men’s and women’s 1,500-meter races and the men’s 200.

Even though the Jamaican track and field trials are taking place more than 3,200 miles away, many American athletes couldn’t help but keep tabs on their international rivals this weekend. On Friday night, Yohan Blake beat world record-holder Usain Bolt in the 100 meters by 11 one-hundredths of a second. Back in Eugene, U.S. track stars were happy to learn that Bolt, the 2008 Olympics gold medalist, is mortal.

“It just proves to the world that he can be beat,” said sprinter Wallace Spearmon, who won his 200-meter heat and will compete in the finals Sunday afternoon.

As many as two dozen more Americans will earn their tickets Sunday to London, joining a group that grew by 15 Saturday at Hayward Field.

Triple-jumper Christian Taylor secured his spot on the Olympic team with a mark of 57-10¼. William Claye (57-7) finished second and will be the only other American triple jumper in London.

Heptathlete Hyleas Fountain will have a chance to improve on her silver medal-winning performance at the Beijing Games. She topped the field Saturday, finishing the trials with 6,419 points. She’ll be joined in London by Sharon Day (6,343) and Chantae McMillan (6,188).

In the 20-kilometer race walk Saturday morning, 19-year-old Trevor Barron set an American record and punched his ticket to London by finishing in 1 hour 23 minutes. He’ll be the only American competing in the event in London.

Rick Maese is a sports reporter for The Washington Post.
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