Coach asks for delay in run-off race

EUGENE, Ore. -- Bobby Kersee, coach of deadlocked sprinters Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh, said Wednesday he asked USA Track and Field to delay a possible run-off for the final women’s 100-meter U.S. Olympic spot until at least Tuesday, two days after the Olympic trials are scheduled to end.

Kersee said in a phone interview that both sprinters, who are scheduled to run in the 200 on Saturday, need more rest than they would get if they competed in a run-off on Sunday.

“We’re talking about two American girls trying to live their dream,” he said. “I hoped they’d say let’s wait until the deadline.”

U.S. track officials have said they want to have the team in place at the end of Sunday’s events, but the International Track Federation doesn’t require entries for any track event until 48 hours before it is scheduled to begin.

USATF said Wednesday they would determine the tiebreaking mechanism after the 200.

Taking no shortcut

Hurdler Jason Richardson hasn’t cut his hair in seven years and wears it in dreadlocks that fall halfway down his back. The suggestion of getting a trim leaves him thinking about Samson and Delilah and the consequences of being near scissors.

“I wouldn’t feel like myself if I didn’t have my hair. The risk of cutting it would actually be a really big problem,” said Richardson, who trains at West Los Angeles College under coach John Smith.

Besides, why change what works? Richardson won the 110-meter hurdles world title last year after top finisher Dayron Robles of Cuba was disqualified for impeding Liu Xiang of China. If the dreadlocks contributed toward intimidating his rivals, he doesn’t mind.

“I don’t have ESP, so I don’t know what exactly they think of me,” Richardson said Wednesday during a day off from competition, “but I will say I pity the fool who counts me out or doesn’t expect me to show up when it counts.”

The trials’ 110-meter hurdle competition will begin Friday and should be close. Richardson’s season-best time of 13.16 seconds, achieved twice, ranks seventh in the world this year. Liu leads at 12.97, but three other Americans -- Aries Merritt (13.03), 2008 Olympic bronze medalist David Oliver (13.12) and Dexter Faulk (13.13) -- are ahead of Richardson on the list.

Richardson said Liu is the Olympic favorite but he’s not conceding anything.

“I’m definitely a realistic athlete and I’m not going to sit here and lie to y’all and say with my 13.1 season best I’m the favorite,” Richardson said. “But what I will say is I’m a silent assassin ninja and I will sneak in the back door and I will try to steal the entire thing yet again.

“I will say that I’ve been able to do some crazy things in my career beyond what I’ve been on paper to do and I definitely think the Olympics will probably be another example of that. At every championships I’m able to perform at the level expected or exceed, and that’s just a testament to the coaching and my will to compete. And I don’t expect anything different.”