Commentary

Get ready for one insane 200 final

Updated: June 30, 2012, 12:06 AM ET
By Jim Caple | ESPN.com

EUGENE, Ore. -- Our top story tonight from the U.S. track and field trials ... Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh are still tied.

At least, they still are tied for the third Olympic spot in the women's 100, which after, let's see, 6 days, 4 hours and 11.07 seconds, is now the longest 100-meter race in history. An announcement on how this tie will be settled -- Runoff? Coin flip? Starters pistols at 20 paces? -- is not expected until sometime after Saturday's 200 final.

[+] EnlargeAllyson Felix
AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezAllyson Felix edged Carmelita Jeter in her 200-meter semifinal heat Friday.

And just to make sure the final will be a little more interesting, Felix and Tarmoh each ran what was officially listed as 22.30 in Friday's 200 semifinal heats. There was no photo finish this time because the two ran in separate heats, nor was there a dead heat, because Felix's time blew away Tarmoh's by a whopping one one-thousandth of a second, if you break it down that far.

There was no controversy, either, because both advanced to the final, which should be very, very fast and very, very close. With Felix, Tarmoh, Sanya Richards-Ross, Carmelita Jeter, Bianca Knight, Tianna Madison and the others, the only way this final could be any tighter is if Jamaica annexes Hayward Field before the race.

"I think this is going to be the hardest event to make," Richards-Ross said. "I think you can run a great race and either finish first or sixth. So tomorrow, I hope to run another great race and finish in the top three. I definitely think it might take 22.0 or even 21 [plus] to win it."

Richards-Ross won the 400 earlier in the trials and said her confidence is building from that win. She ran the fastest heat Friday in 22.15.

"I actually felt the most fresh today," she said. "During warm-ups, I told my coach, 'I wish today were the final.' My body felt so good, so I knew I was going to run well."

Richards-Ross, who ran in Lane 6 on Friday, said she was focused on getting a good lane assignment for the final. "I was thinking 22.30 in that lane, so I was really pleased to see that time. Hopefully tomorrow will be even faster," she said.

Felix and Tarmoh had the next-fastest times. Madison, who was second in the 100, ran the next fastest (22.33), and then Knight (22.34), Kimberlyn Duncan (22.37) and Aurieyall Scott (22.56). Jeter, who won the women's 100, had the slowest qualifying time at 22.64.

Neither Felix nor Tarmoh spoke after their heats, each rushing past reporters in the mixed zone almost as fast as they ran on the track. Their coach, Bobby Kersee, escorted each and didn't speak, either, but he did raise a big thumbs up when asked how Felix ran.

Just which three runners advance from the final could have an effect on how the 100 tie is settled. That's because the decision is up to the athletes, and whether they qualify in the 200 could influence their feelings about competing in the 100. The decision must be made by Sunday. U.S. women's coach Amy Deem said Felix and Tarmoh will both make the U.S. team as part of the relay pool no matter what.

Because there was no procedure in place for settling a tie, USA Track and Field quickly wrote up one that gave the two runners the pleasure/pressure of deciding how they want to settle the tie, either via a runoff or a coin flip. A runner also could decide to drop out of the 100. Felix, the silver medalist in the 200 at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, is hoping to double in the 200 and 100 this year. Tarmoh, 22, is her running partner.

Conspiracy theorists, start your watches. Meet timers, make sure yours are working properly for the 200. You might want to make sure they measure to the millionth of a second. We don't want any more dead heats.

Jim Caple | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com