An Exclusive Interview With The Man Responsible For Reading the Allyson Felix 100m Finish Picture

Roger Jennings Explains How Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh Ended Up in A Dead Heat

Will The Rule Book Be Followed And Lots Now Drawn To Determine The Final Olympic Spot?

June 23, 2012 got an exclusive interview with Roger Jennings of, considered by many to be the best timer in the world and the man responsible for reading the women's 100 final picture, as Jennings was exiting the stadium on Saturday evening (You can watch the interview in it's entirety at the end of this article).

In the interview, Jennings explains the process of how he originally placed Allyson Felix 4th and then effectively immediately protested his own decision. Ultimately the four meet referees and Jennings met and determined that the visual evidence showed it to be a dead heat for third between Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh.

"When I immediately looked at it, I could see their torsos and what I could see visually, it was in essence a dead heat," said Jennings. "But then I looked at the (right) arm position of Tarmoh (being ahead of Felix) which I felt was a torso coming across ahead of Allyson's Felix's torso. So I called it on the board, unofficially, as lane one Tarmoh ahead of Felix. But I immediately wanted to get a meet referee in there.  In essence, I protested it myself. We had four referees come in and look it and we all decided that what we saw visually was a dead heat and at that point we called it a dead heat for third."

After getting this explanation, we asked for a little clarification and asked Jennings, "You originally thought Felix was fourth but now you think she's third, what made you change your mind?"

Jennings answered, "Looking at it the way I read it, I still see lane one beating lane two from what I (was doing at first) using an educated guess on torso position, but on visual evidence, on what I can actually see in the picture, it's a dead heat so I'm comfortable with that decision."

USATF has issued an official statement on the dead heat which is very much in line with Jennings explanation. USATF's statement reads in part:

    Looking at the inside camera images, timers initially looked at the twisting upper bodies of Jeneba Tarmoh and Allyson Felix and interpolated the obscured body positions from the photo finish image. They posted Tarmoh as finishing third in unofficial results on the Hayward Field scoreboard.

    Timers then immediately called referees to notify them of a potential dead heat. The photo-finish image, shot at 3,000-frames-per-second, was then analyzed by timers and referees and unanimously ruled to be a dead heat based on visual evidence. Tarmoh and Felix are both officially timed in 11.068 seconds. An image of the photo is attached.
    USATF officials are meeting to determine the procedures necessary to break the third-place tie.

A Dead Heat Is Official So Now What?
Now that a dead heat or tie has been declared, how while USATF make a decision as to who is the third American going to London in the women's 100?

USATF communications head Jill Geer stated in a hastily arranged press conference that there was no protocol for such a scenario and that officials would be meeting this evening to figure out what to do. Despite that statement from Greer, the USATF rule book does in fact envision such a scenario.

Rule 167 of the USATF's 2012 Competition Rules book, which can be found on page 89 of the rulebook, states the following:


    1. In determining whether there has been a tie for a qualifying position for the next round based on time, the Photo Finish Judge shall consider the actual time recorded by the competitors without regard to the rule that the time should be read to the next longer 1/100th of a second.

    Whether by time or finishing place, if it is determined that there has been a tie, the tying competitors shall be placed in the next round if it is practical to do so. If that is not practical, lots shall be drawn to determine who shall be placed in the next round.

So there you have it, in the day and age of facebook, twitter, and the Internet, an Olympic spot may be decided based on the old-fashioned method of drawing lots. Good enough for us. One other option would be that Felix and Tarmoh might just figure it out themselves as they are training partners.

Additionally, people not willing to talk on the record said that a one on one race-off during one of the off-days of the Trials or possibly after the trials might be considered.

Either way, we think it's all great drama. Human beings hate uncertainty but sometimes that's what life presents you.

Editor's addition: Some people have written us claiming that the USATF Rule 167 isn't meant for a final race but rather only for a preliminary round race. Our response is that the name of the meet is Olympic Trials and that this race in fact a preliminary round race for the first round of the Olympics.

More: MB: Exclusive Interview With Man Responsible For Reading Women's 100 Final (Allyson Felix's Race) Finish Image

  Roger Jennings Explains The Allyson Felix - Jenebah Tarmoh Dead Heat



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