Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh are about to add a new page to the U.S. track and field Olympics qualifying rule book. They tied for the third and final spot to make the 100-meter squad for the 2012 London Games. And when I say tied, I mean tied.
At first, Tarmoh was said to have won by 0.0001 seconds. That is such a ridiculously tiny amount of time it is impossible for me to comprehend. There is no way to put this quick interval into perspective, and even that nearly invisible space of time was proven not great enough to separate these two sprinters.
The finish of a sprint is determined by the torso. For photo finishes there are two cameras—one on the inside and one on the outside of the track, and these cameras capture a ridiculous amount of frames per second.
This is usually more than enough to determine a winner. In fact, the process to determine who has the edge in a close finish has worked so effectively that there is nothing in the rules that tells anyone what to do if there is a tie for the final spot on the Olympic team.
So the question turns to what do they do now? The logical thing would be to have the two run again. But there is nothing logical about an absolute dead heat. So why not think out of the box?
Why not fly out Alex Trebek to provide these two athletes with a series of answers and see which one can provide the most correct questions?
Or how about these two run through a maze. Anyone can run in a straight line—let's add a little mental challenge to the sprint.
Or it could be settled by a trick question. Someone could independently ask each one who deserves the chance to compete in the 100 at the Olympics, and the person who is the quickest to give the nod to her competitor will be the one who actually gets to compete.
OK, these ideas are terrible. They should just have a one-on-one sprint-off.
The bright side to this sticky situation for both is that this isn't their only chance to punch their tickets to London. They will both be attempting to qualify in the 200-meter as well.