The U.S Track and Field Team is set, and both Jeneba Tarmoh and Allyson Felix are members of the team, but the third participant in the 100m dash was decided because one person gave the spot away. There was a lot of buildup when the runoff was first announced for Monday night, and it generated the kind of buzz and excitement that Track and Field does not get on a consistent basis. But, after Tarmoh pulled out of the race on Monday morning conceding the final 100m spot to Felix it caused a week long circus to end in disappointment. Tarmoh said later that her heart wasn’t into the runoff, which was why she decided to concede the race.
The runoff had the potential to be a big deal for Track & Field which struggles for attention when the Olympics are not around the corner. The pulling out of Tarmoh that caused the event not to happen was yet another disappointment for Track & Field which has suffered many in recent memory. The runoff was something that was captivating and would have caught the attention of the American people for the eleven seconds it would have taken them to run it. The fact that they ended up not running should not be a surprise to anyone who even has a mild interest in the sport, due to the nature of Track & Field it does not lend itself to someone being dominant for a long period of time.
If you think back to the Olympic Trials for the 2000 Sydney Olympics when Michael Johnson and Maurice Green where in the midst of a heated rivalry in the 200m dash, both of them ended up pulling a hamstring in the 200m finals at the trials. Even earlier than that was the much hyped and anticipated showdown between Donovan Bailey and Michael Johnson in a made for television runoff. Both runners had broken the world record in their respective events Bailey (100m) and Johnson (200m), and a runoff titled World’s Fastest Man was setup to see who was fastest at an agreed upon 150m. When that race started it looked like both runners were evenly matched, and about halfway through the race Michael Johnson pulled up with a hamstring injury, and yet another disappointment for Track & Field.
You can even add the entire Dan & Dave marketing campaign where one of them didn’t even make it to the Olympics, and this year Brian Clay failed to qualify for the Olympics in the decathlon after winning gold in Beijing. The race between Felix and Tarmoh that wasn’t added to the history of events that could have given Track & Field notoriety and help it to be recognized in this country more than every four years. U.S. Track and Field needs to find a way to grow the sport outside of the Olympics viewership they receive, and might need to give up on promoting “Events” or particular competitors so much due to the difficulty staying on top in the sport. Check out the “World’s Fastest Man” race between Michael Johnson and Donovan Bailey below.