EUGENE, Ore. – It will be remembered as the most anticipated race never run. The runoff that turned into a walk away to conclude the U.S. Olympic track trials.
Jeneba Tarmoh conceded the final Olympic spot in the women’s 100-meter dash, rather than meet training partner Allyson Felix at the starting line to break a third-place tie. She notified USA Track and Field early in the day of her intention to withdraw from the Monday night race, later saying it was simply because her heart wasn’t into the runoff.
In the original race on June 23, Tarmoh leaned across the finish line and looked up to see her name on the scoreboard in the third spot behind winner Carmelita Jeter and runner-up Tianna Madison.
The 22-year-old Tarmoh then took a celebratory lap around the track, waving an American flag. She received a medal and held a news conference. And then she watched the moment evaporate as the race was ruled a dead heat.
Tarmoh was reluctant to take the line for a runoff from the start, especially since she believed she earned the final spot in the 100 for the London Olympics fair and square.
“Running in this (runoff) came down to how I felt internally. Would my heart be at peace running or would I not be at peace? If I was at peace, I would have run,” Tarmoh told The Associated Press on Monday night. “My heart was not at peace with running.”
In an email sent through her agent to USATF, Tarmoh officially conceded: “I understand that with this decision I am no longer running the 100m dash in the Olympic Games and will be an alternate for the event.”
The unique race was scheduled to be shown in prime time on NBC in conjunction with the network’s coverage of the swimming trials. It would’ve been a boon for track. Now, it’s another blow for a sport that’s taken its fair share of late.
“This could’ve been something exciting for the sport, something new, something different,” said Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, whose husband, Bobby, coaches both sprinters. “It would bring people in that don’t ordinarily watch. Reality at its best. This is reality. You’ve got everything – emotion, drama.”
■ SWIMMING – At Omaha, Neb., Dara Torres lingered in the water after the other swimmers had climbed out of the pool. Her long career was finally over.
She wanted to soak up the moment as long as possible.
The 45-year-old Torres fell short in her bid to make her sixth Olympics. She finished fourth in the final of the 50-meter freestyle, her only event at the U.S. swimming trials.
“This is really over,” Torres said. “That’s it, I’m going to enjoy some time with my daughter, have a nice summer and cheer on the U.S. team.”
After winning three silver medals in Beijing in 2008, Torres underwent radical knee surgery and put all her hopes into a chaotic dash from one end of the pool to the other. But Jessica Hardy won in 24.50 seconds, while Kara Lynn Joyce took the other Olympic spot in 24.73.
Torres was denied a trip to London by nine-hundredths of a second, also touching behind third-place Christine Magnuson (24.78).PHELPS DROPS 200 FREE FOR LONDON OLYMPICS
OMAHA, Neb. – Eight was enough for Michael Phelps in Beijing.
The world’s greatest swimmer dropped one of his eight Olympic events on Monday, leaving him with seven – four individual events and three relays – at the London Games. That means the 14-time gold medalist won’t equal the record eight golds he won four years ago.
And Phelps is just fine with that.
“Four years ago, we were trying to literally do everything,” he told The Associated Press in an interview Monday. “That was what we wanted to do but at this point, it’s let’s go out, let’s have some fun, let’s relax a little bit.”
Phelps’ coach, Bob Bowman, announced Monday on the final day of the U.S. trials that Phelps was scratching the 200-meter freestyle.
“It’s so much smarter for me to do that,” Phelps said. “We’re not trying to re-create what happened in Beijing. It just makes more sense.”
Bowman said his main concern was Phelps being fresh for the 400 freestyle relay. While the U.S. has traditionally dominated that event, Australia is favored in London. The relay was one of Phelps’ closest calls in Beijing, with teammate Jason Lezak coming from behind on the anchor leg to beat a strong French squad.
The relay final is on the same day as the preliminaries and semifinals of the 200 freestyle.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS