Last week at the US Olympic trials, Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh tied for third in the 100meter finals. The top three spots are guaranteed a spot on the Olympic team competing in the 100, with the fourth joining the pool for the relay team.
Felix and Tarmoh are training partners, and while Felix is the most decorated and easily the best all-around US sprinter of the last decade, having competed successfully at the 100, 200 and 400 meters as well as every successful US relay team. Tarmoh is trying to secure her first Olympic berth having made her first US team last year at the World Championships.
My issue is not with the runners. They did their part. The only farce here is with the USATF who did not have a procedure in place to deal with this. In the wake of what I will call ‘Indecision 2012’ they attempted to cobble together a procedure.
This procedure starts with the suggestion that one of the two runners should decline a spot on the team. I will not even comment further on the absurdity of that.
It goes on to say that the runners will be given the ‘option’ of a run-off or a coin toss. To which I ask why? They are runners. World class competitors. Trying to make their national team for the Olympics.
Why would there be any other option than running again,
winner proceeds and loser is out?
To make this even more of a joke, the former head of USA Track and Field on NBC’s coverage of the trials stated ‘that in the hundred years plus of the World Championship and Olympic teams, this has never happened, ‘ as an explanation as to why there was no procedure in place.
Maybe it’s because I have spent so many years dealing with insurance, risk, litigation, policy interpretations and contracts that I look at some things the way I do. After so much time spent working in the “wonderful world of ‘What If’ “ It is ingrained in me to always make what is one of the most basic of conclusions, to wit: Just because it has never happened before does not mean it cannot happen.
To think that in a century of organization, and the most advanced technology available, they never considered this particular ‘what if’ is ridiculous. The indecisive nature of the proposed solution is also a joke.
So now we have an issue that won’t be decided until at least a w
eek later, and is nothing short of a complete embarrassment for the USA Track and Field.
I hope the Jamaican Olympic trial organizers take note and get their ducks in a row. The world is watching this and while the media fallout has not been as loud as I think it should be, do not for a second think that if mistakes are made in Kingston, it wont be noticed and ridiculed.
Make notes, make adjustments, be professional and be prepared.
Look for my Olympic track and field preview coming up next week after the Jamaican Olympic trials. I got some surprises for you, and if you’re the gambling type, some long shots you might want to put a quid on.