Coming into the the women’s 100 meter event at U.S. qualifying, there were three positions open on the team. The first three to finish that race would make the team. But after the race was run, there is still no clear third place winner, and the final US Olympic team may have to be determined by a coin toss.
Both Allyson Felix and Jenba Tarmoth hurled their bodies across the finish line at precisely the same moment in the qualifying race. How precise? Down to a thousandths of a second: 11.068 seconds.
Carmelita Jeter and Tianna Madison placed first and second, so their spots are definitely secure, but the US Olympic Committee now faces a tough decision in who gets the third spot. It’s literally too close to call. And with the ever growing technology used in the modern olympic era, that is saying something. Even a camera recording at 3,000 frames per second could not distinguish a clear winner.
The Olympic Committee finally decided to introduce new rules that they think is fair in this situation — One of the athletes could resign, giving their spot to the other competitor (athlete’s train a lifetime for their chance at Olympic glory, so this option is unlikely). If no one relinquishes their spot, then they have a choice. They can run a tie breaking race or flip a coin. If both choose the coin toss, then that is how it will be decided. If they cannot come to a consensus, then they must race for the final spot. If neither of them make a choice, then by default, they flip a US quater to determine the winner.
Right now both of them have other races to run, so neither has made a choice, but it will be exciting to see what they finally choose. I have to think that with all they have on the line, they would never leave anything to chance, and choose to run a deciding race. It would be a shame to look back and wonder what might have been if a coin toss ultimately decided your fate.