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Tarmoh bows out of runoff and opens herself up to more controversy

U.S. sprinter Allyson Felix puts her arm around Jeneba Tarmoh after the two runner tied for 3rd place in the women's 100m race at the U.S. Olympic athletics trials in Eugene

So much for the spirit of competition. In what has become a bit of a sore spot for USATF officials, the final berth in the 100M in London was to be decided in an unprecedented “runoff” set to take place this evening. Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarboh were set to square off in primetime after they finished in a dead heat for third place in the trials — the disputed third position being the one that carried with it the final invitation to the Games. Only Tarmoh chickened out of tonight’s would-be tiebreaking showdown this afternoon.

Now, maybe “chickened out” is a bit harsh. But how else do you describe the decision? Sore tie-er-er? Protesting for protesting sake? You have the opportunity to settle a score and earn your way, regardless of whether you believe you’ve already done so. As an elite athlete, how do you not relish that opportunity? For Tarmoh, how can you not view this race as – at the very least – a ridiculous once-in-a-lifetime chance to elevate your profile. NOT TO MENTION (small sidebar) the stage to punch a ticket to the Olympics and fulfill a dream?

Sorry Jeneba, don’t see how any amount of explaining is going to help me get this one. Apparently, you were not “at peace” with the runoff. Simply put, you look scared of Allyson Felix.

Many will likely debate what this says about Tarmoh – the athlete, the person, and the potential Olympian. And surely it will go to uncalled for extremes on both sides. The thing that sticks out for me is how so many athletes chase the Olympic dream through considerable challenges. Those are the stories that make The Games. Here is an athlete, literally standing at the precipice. I can’t begin to imagine what it took to get there. Yet, she’s backing away from one last sprint that could punch her ticket. Not to get all “run for those who can’t,” but don’t you feel some sort of obligation to give it a go? To each their own, I suppose.

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