A Coin Flip Could Determine a US Olympic Team Spot

Heads or tails. It could come down to the flip of a coin for 100 meter US Olympic hopefuls Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh (who are currently tied for the third and final spot). USA Track and Field will ask the duo their respective preferences. If both choose the coin, they'll flip. If one picks a runoff and the other picks the flip, they run. And if both choose a runoff - the most logical decision - then that's what they'll do as well.

American track coach Bob Kersee (who married Jackie Joyner-Kersee when he was training her in 1986) said he doesn't want Allyson or Jeneba making that decision until after they compete in the 200 that begins Thursday (the final is Saturday). "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. I will be in the room on the meeting, but I will have no decision-making power. I'm going to be listening, but let the athletes decide. Let the managers decide what they want to do — I want the best for the athletes."

Coach Kersee added the obvious: "Nine times out of 10, most athletes aren't going to want to flip a coin," Kersee said. "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."

This is all necessary because Felix and Tarmoh finished in a dead heat in the 100 on Sunday, each leaning across the finish line in 11.068 seconds.


Track & field has tiebreakers in place for certain circumstances. But not in cases of tying for the last spot for an Olympic event. So the organization met, decided on the process, and had it approved by the United States Olympic Committee. And for a group that didn't have a contingency plan in place in the first place -- they got really specific: "...the USATF representative shall bend his or her index finger at a 90-degree angle to his or her thumb, allowing the coin to rest on his or her thumb."

Pretty sure athletes would extend a finger or two if their spot on the United States Olympics team was determined by a coin flip...

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