Behind the Scenes of the Women’s 100m Photo Finish


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Probably the most talked about moment at the Olympic trials so far has been the dead heat finish declared in the women's 100m final last Saturday. Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh crossed the finish line at almost the same time, if not the same time, for third place. The runner that took third would have a chance to compete for the United States in the Olympics. After review, the finish evaluator declared Tarmoh unofficially in third place. Later, the USATF declared the race a tie. With no process in place to resolve a tie, the USATF made up a new rule that would have the runners run a tiebreaker, flip a coin, or willingly give up their spot. That's the background on the start of the dead heat resolution, but Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden has written a great piece that takes a step back and goes behind the scenes of the photo finish evaluation.

“In horse racing, which I've done, it's easy: You go by the horse's nose. In auto racing, the front of the car. In speedskating, by the skate. In cycling, by the wheel. It's the first thing that crosses the line,” says finish evaluator Roger Jennings in the article. “In track and field, it's the torso. And there is subjectivity in determining where the torso is. That's what we got into in the women's 100 meters.”

The video above details the initial call made by Jennings. The article gives more detail on Jennings's call, and also talks about the decision by the USATF to call a tie. Read it at Sports Illustrated.

—Joe Spring

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