Top American sprinter says she was right to stick to her guns and accept her spot on the 100m team after tying with Jeneba Tarmoh at the US Trials
The US selection policy for the Olympics is as brutal as it is simple – the first three past the post are on the team. But what happens when there is a tie for third place?
No one really knew what to do, so it seemed, when that exact scenario played out at this year’s Trials in Eugene. In the women’s 100m Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh were unseparable on the photofinish.
The situation was all the more awkward as the pair are training partners, and neither wanted to take themselves out of the running. After initial talks of tossing a coin to decide who gets the team spot, it was announced that there would be a run-off. But Tarmoh withdrew at the eleventh hour, allowing Felix to take the place on the team.
Felix, who will also be competing in the 200m, stands by her decision to accept her place on the team in the 100m.
“People see me as a nice girl and expected me to give up the spot,” said Felix with a chuckle. “I gave up my spot before in the 100m, but this time it’s not just about me. It’s about Bobby (Kersee, her coach) and the time he invested in me. It’s about my parents and the sacrifices they made, my brother and the agents that are working with me — and just everyone who’s invested their time in me.
“Jackie (Joyner-Kersee, the heptathlon world record-holder and wife of Felix’s coach) said you cannot give this up. We have worked too hard.”
Felix has never before qualified in the 100m for a major championships. After narrowly missing out on 400m gold at last year’s World Championships, this year she has focused more on her speed and it paid off with a 100m PB of 10.92 in Doha.
It also benefited her main event, the 200m, in which she ran a PB of 21.69 to win the US Trials, putting her fourth on the world all-time list in that event. Having won three world titles in that event but taking the silver at the past two Games, Felix is now excited at the prospect of winning her first individual Olympic title.
“It had been five years since my last PB,” she said. “When you get to those times, you seem to chip away at it slowly, it gets discouraging.
“But having such a breakthough is exciting. I really needed that to move on to the next level. Just for that to come together is encouraging. It gives me confidence. Things are really coming together.
“Now I’m excited to get a real chance (for gold). I’ve got two silver medals, so I hope this third time is a chance. I think I have emerged better, more comfortable. I am in a better place. I can now focus on my performance.