June 24, 2012

U.S. Sprinters Tie in Super-Speed Photo Finish: In a race with three spots on the U.S. team at the Summer Olympics up for grabs, Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh finished the 100 meters Saturday in a photographic tie for third -- using a finish-line camera that shoots at 3,000 frames per second. There's no rule for how to break such a tie. "How we reached this point without a rule, I have no idea," said Ato Boldon, a former sprinter and race commentator.

posted by rcade to olympics at 10:27 PM - 7 comments

I guess since it's the trials and maybe only one of them can go it's actually an issue, but during the actual '84 Olympics two US swimmers tied and both got gold medals.

posted by LionIndex at 03:23 AM on June 25

And after RTFA, they mention a different event with a similar situation at the '84 games. That swimming tie left me thinking, at 9 years old, that there was some kind of fix involved.

posted by LionIndex at 03:26 AM on June 25

Runoff seems to be the fairest ... do it on the track.

Coin flip? We'd be the laughingstock of the world.

posted by jjzucal at 11:10 AM on June 25

What rules are they describing that preclude them from just taking both runners? Are they U.S. Olympic rules, or IOC rules on how many athletes any one country can send to the Olympics?

posted by hincandenza at 02:00 PM on June 25


Two women enter, one woman leaves!

posted by grum@work at 03:22 PM on June 25

U.S. only has three spots (IOC maximum) ... they tied for third.

posted by jjzucal at 11:43 PM on June 25

Are they U.S. Olympic rules, or IOC rules on how many athletes any one country can send to the Olympics?

It's complicated. The global governing bodies for each Olympic sport (in athletics, the IAAF) set the standards and rules for selection, in order to keep things competitive, and the national governing bodies (here, USATF) can add their own rules on top, as long as they have the approval of the US Olympic Committee.

The IAAF says that a country can enter three athletes for an event if they all make the "A" standard time during the season. The US has a lot of women who've made that time in the 100m (11.29s) -- twelve just during the trials heats -- and only eight of those made it to the final.

So, USATF narrows it down by saying that the top three in the trials final go to London. Except they didn't really think through what would happen if there was a dead heat for third, because dead heats hardly ever happen when you're measuring down to the thousandth of a second. They'll likely both end up going, except one will have to qualify via the 200m, and they'll both be available for the sprint relay team.

Basically, the US is a victim of its own success here: while the American public may not give a shit about athletics (even during the Olympics, partly because of the creepy national obsession with women's gymnastics) it's an incredibly strong team, and Carmelita Jeter, who won the trials, goes to London as favourite for gold.

posted by etagloh at 12:17 AM on June 26

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