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Friday, June 29, 2012

Walter Dix doesn't run in 200 meters

< EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Some of the biggest names in American sprinting were on the sideline and not in the starting blocks for the opening round of the 200 meters. As expected, Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay didn't run in the event Friday at Olympic track trials. But the absence of Olympic bronze medalist Walter Dix was a bit of a surprise. Dix was hampered by a sore left hamstring that slowed him in the 100, but he thought he might be ready for the 200. Now, Dix's only option for making it to the London Games will be as a member of the 400 relay team, should he be selected. Dix was expecting big things, too, especially after capturing bronze in both the 100 and 200 at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Gatlin said after winning the 100 he would focus on one event, just to save wear and tear on his body. Same with Gay, who finished second in the 100 despite a surgically repaired hip that limited him to just one meet in the last year before taking the stage at trials.

"We're missing Tyson, Walter and Justin — that's U.S. best right there," said the 34-year-old Doc Patton, who easily advanced. "The door is open for anyone in the field right now."

Possibly sprinters such as Calesio Newman or Isiah Young — unfamiliar names now, but maybe bigger names should they make team. Newman and Young both won their heat.

They may be the sprinters up next for world-record holder Usain Bolt and his training partner Yohan Blake, who are currently trying to earn spots to the Olympics at Jamaican trials.

Shawn Crawford is in the running, too, to take on Bolt & Co. Crawford won the 200-meter title at the 2004 Olympics and was bumped up to silver in Beijing.

In that race, Crawford originally finished fourth, only to move up two spots when Netherlands Antilles sprinter Churandy Martina and American Wallace Spearmon were disqualified for running outside their lanes.

Feeling Martina had won the medal fair and square, even though the rules said differently, Crawford gave it back to Martina.

Spearmon turned in the best time Friday, finishing in 20.17 seconds. That's even with pulling up early to conserve energy and take it easy on his left Achilles tendon, which has been giving him some trouble.

"It's the first round. You're not supposed to run that hard," Spearmon said. "It was a good run."

Siegel getting up to speed as USATF's new CEO

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — The new CEO of USA Track and Field was hoping for calm at his first Olympic trials in charge. Instead, Max Siegel found controversy.

At least people are paying attention, Siegel said Friday. Siegel has been hearing from acquaintances who knew next to nothing about the sport, each offering their opinion about how to break the third-place tie between Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh in the 100 meters. It's a situation that's now been hanging over the competition for the last week.

A resolution is around the corner. After the 200-meter final on Saturday, the sprinters will decide between a runoff — a winner-take-all race — or a coin flip to determine the final spot at the London Games in the 100. One can also give the spot to the other.

"The exposure is great," Siegel said.

Some might argue it's been a distraction, too. Because of the flap, the action on the track has taken a back seat to the drama away from it.

"Anytime you try to do what's in the best interest of all the stakeholders, you have to ignore the noise," said Siegel, who started in May. "We've been consulting with everyone impacted by the decision and put a process in place to allow them to complete their competition obligations and give them a fair amount of time to resolve it."

The USATF didn't have any kind of procedure in place to break the dead heat between Felix and Tarmoh. Immediately after the 100 race Saturday night, the group hastily scrambled to put together some options for the athletes.

The sprinters have elected to not say anything until after the 200. That way, they can focus on making the team in that event.

As it is, both are already eligible to be on the 400-meter relay in London.

Felix and Tarmoh technically have until Sunday, when the trials end, to decide how to resolve their tie.

However, their coach, Bobby Kersee, is hoping USATF will give his athletes more time — not so much to make a decision, but when a runoff would take place should that be the option they choose.

The organization wants to have the spots on the team finalized by Sunday. But USATF doesn't have to submit the list of names to the United States Olympic Committee until Tuesday.

That's why Kersee is advocating that should his athletes decide on a runoff, the race be held on Tuesday. It would give Felix and Tarmoh more time to recover.

-- Pat Graham


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