U.S. Olympic Team Determined By a Coin Toss

photo-finish

On Saturday night at the United States Olympic trials, eight of the fastest women in the country lined up for the 100 meter dash. Only the top three finishers would earn a trip to London this summer, but the race didn’t produce three top-finishers — it produced four. In an era when cameras can capture up to 3,000 frames per second — think of those nature shows where the 1.5-second breach of a great white shark is turned into a 30-second slow-mo horror show — Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh had a photo-finish that was too close even for technology to figure out.

To make matters worse, the New York Times reported that the track timer initially ruled that Tarmoh finished one-thousandth of a second ahead of Felix. So for 24 hours, Tarmoh thought she was headed to the Olympics … then was told that she may not be. A tie in track and field is usually broken by drawing lots, but since this is for an Olympic berth — both women are sponsored by Nike, which means they also have a significant cash bonus for making the Olympics on the line — Felix and Tarmoh will resolve the result one of two ways: Either a literal run-off (swimmers who tie must swim a new heat against each other to determine the winner) or, yes, a coin toss. Both runners would have to agree to the coin toss, and it’s hard to imagine world-class athletes would agree to let a commemorative coin decide their fates. Still, if it comes down to that, we recommend calling tails. It wins, like, half the time!