Published July 02, 2012
| Associated Press
EUGENE, Ore. – Wallace Spearmon took another step toward erasing the bad memories of his disqualification at the Beijing Olympics, overcoming a slow start to win the 200-meter final in 19.82 seconds at the U.S. trials.
"That's definitely something that's been on my mind since 2008," he said. "It's hard to make one Olympic team, go and make the final, step on the line when you thought you had a medal, do about 300 meters of the victory lap and have to live with that."
Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh can probably relate.
Spearmon's victory at Hayward Field on Sunday — and his chance for redemption at the London Games after losing the bronze medal because of a lane violation in Beijing — was overshadowed by a runoff between Felix and Tarmoh that was originally set for Monday afternoon.
That winner-take all race to settle a third-place tie in the 100 for the final spot on the U.S. Olympic team was put into limbo late Sunday when Tarmoh began having second thoughts about agreeing to the runoff.
Tarmoh's agent, Kimberly Holland, told The Associated Press she would not run, and USA Track and Field confirmed Tarmoh's withdrawal on Monday morning.
Felix and Tarmoh finished in a dead heat in the 100 more than a week ago behind winner Carmelita Jeter and Tianna Madison, putting the team for the event in limbo. Track officials had no policy in place to resolve it but the next day devised a tiebreaker that included the options of a runoff or a coin flip.
The decision was put off eight days to allow Felix and Tarmoh to focus on the 200, which Felix handily won Saturday night. Tarmoh finished fifth.
On Sunday morning, the athletes got together with track officials and decided on the runoff that Tarmoh later reconsidered.
Wearing his sunglasses, Spearmon rebounded from his shaky start and finished the 200 well in front of runner-up Maurice Mitchell and Isiah Young.
"If I didn't make the team this year, that would've been on my mind the rest of my life — the chance I could've had," Spearmon said. "Being able to go back and make my second Olympic team and have a chance at redemption, I don't take my second chances lightly. I'm going to go out there and leave it all on the track.'"
Spearmon was the obvious favorite in the field, which was somewhat diluted when sprinters Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay decided to pass after securing spots on the Olympic team in the 100. And reigning Olympic 200 bronze medalist Walter Dix didn't run because of a lingering hamstring injury that was apparent in the 100.
Dix's only option for making it to London will be as a member of the 400 relay team.
Shortly after Spearmon claimed his third U.S. title in the event, good friend Usain Bolt ran the 200 at the Jamaican trials, finishing second to Yohan Blake. The trio of Blake, Bolt and Spearmon instantly became the favorites going into London.
In other events Sunday, defending outdoor champion Lashinda Demus won the women's 400 hurdles in 53.98, joining runner-up Georganne Moline and third-place finisher T'Erea Brown on the Olympic team.
On the men's side, Michael Tinsley won the 400 hurdles in 48.33, beating reigning Olympic champion Angelo Taylor and defending Olympic silver medalist Kerron Clement. Bershawn Jackson, the defending Olympic bronze medalist, fell into the finish but ended up fourth.
"Not many people make it to their fourth Olympic team, so this is something that I really wanted to do," Taylor said. "I knew the competition I was facing. My main goal was just to stay healthy, and goal No. 2 was just to make the team."
Leo Manzano won the men's 1,500 in 3 minutes, 35.75 seconds, followed by former Oregon Ducks teammates Matthew Centrowitz and Andrew Wheating.
"I knew I needed to stay calm, stay smooth," Manzano said after becoming a two-time Olympian. "There were some times I kind of got caught up, but I just needed to stay calm, bring it back around and just shoot for home."
Morgan Uceny won the women's 1,500 in 4:04.59, earning a place on the team with runner-up Shannon Rowbury and third-place finisher Jenny Simpson. Simpson has the American record in the 3,000 steeplechase, but switched to the 1,500 and is the reigning world champion in the event.
"The hardest thing about the trials that separates it from any other race you run in your life is that your emotions can slip away from you," Simpson said. "On final stretch, I just felt this overwhelming relief. I didn't even care my time or my place. I was just so happy the three of us were going to make it."
Brittney Reese won her fifth straight U.S. title in the long jump with a leap of 23 feet, 5 1/2 inches. The two-time world champion will be joined in London by runner-up Chelsea Hayes and Janay DeLoach.
Brittany Borman won the javelin with a throw of 201-9. Kara Patterson was second at 196-2, but third-place finisher Kimberly Hamilton did not have the Olympic "A'' standard needed to qualify for the games and the third spot on the U.S. team went to fourth-place finisher Rachel Yurkovich.
Maria Michta won the 20,000-meter race walk in 1:34:53.33 for the lone spot on the team because no one had the "A'' standard.