EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Step by step, Wallace Spearmon has agonized over the video from the 200-meter final in Beijing.
Frame by frame, the sprinter studied the position of his feet, looking for where he possibly came down on the line of his lane.
In that Olympic race, Spearmon chugged his way to a bronze medal and then celebrated alongside good friend Usain Bolt, who broke the world record as he captured gold.
The merry moment wouldn't last. Spearmon was later disqualified for a lane violation.
There went his medal.
Since that disastrous day, Spearmon has watched the footage with a wary eye. He can clearly see one foot landing on the line.
Indeed, he conceded, a good call. Only, he thought it was three consecutive steps on a line that led to a DQ.
"I didn't know the rule," he said.
Funny, there seems to be a lot of that lately.
USA Track and Field came under scrutiny for not having a procedure in place to break a third-place tie between Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh in the women's 100-meter final last weekend at the U.S. track trials.
USATF said a decision on how to resolve the dead heat will be announced after the women's 200 on Saturday. The athletes can either have a runoff — a winner-take-all race — or resort to a coin flip. One of them could just bow out, too.
"I wish the best for them," Spearmon said Wednesday. "But I have problems of my own."
Namely, getting healthy.
Spearmon has been bothered by a chronically sore left Achilles tendon that he just can't shake. But now, with qualifying in the 200 starting Friday, it's starting to feel better.
Not great, just better.
"This is the closest I've been to healthy in a long time," Spearmon said. "Just happy to be in the mix again."
Spearmon's not only in the mix, but he's the clear favorite in the event. After all, Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay aren't running, while Walter Dix, who was bumped up to bronze in Beijing, is contending with a left hamstring issue.
"You never take any race lightly," Spearmon said. "People come here and run the best times of their lives all the time. So you can never sleep on anyone."
Although the dead-heat debacle has grabbed a majority of the headlines, there is more going on at trials than just that. After a second day off, the action cranks up again Thursday with qualifying for the women's 200 as Felix and Tarmoh take the track for the first time since their controversial finish.
There's also the final of the men's and women's 5,000. Bernard Lagat , a four-time national champion in the event, remains the one to catch in the men's race. But the Hayward Field crowd will be rooting for former Oregon Duck Galen Rupp, who's fresh off a win in the 10,000.
Lagat playfully kidded that he's hoping the 5,000 ends with a third-place tie.
"We toss a coin and somebody who has the best (personal best) will be the one calling," Lagat said, laughing. "I'm just reading about this (100 controversy) and it's actually fun. That's what we need."
Or good rivalries on the track. That could help revive interest in the sport, too.
Christian Taylor and Will Claye have a robust rivalry going in the triple jump. They were competitive as teammates at the University of Florida and remain so on this level.
At the world championships last summer in South Korea, Taylor won the event while Claye took home bronze.
"I used to look on the Internet and see Christian's jumps and be like, 'Oh shoot, he just jumped this far? I need to go out to this meet and jump better,'" said Claye, who was at Oklahoma before transferring to Florida. "It's been crazy ever since."
So, Taylor claimed he was a better soccer player.
"I don't know about that," Claye said. "We might have to get out there and kick a few soccer balls around. We'll play one of these days."
For Spearmon, he's just elated to be able to step up to the starting line. Spearmon's Achilles was so bad he couldn't even walk, let alone sprint.
The 27-year-old also had to stay off the basketball court.
Spearmon fancies himself a pretty good player with a pretty decent jumper. In Dallas, where he trains, he frequently joins pickup games with his buddies. These aren't just any buddies, either, but include Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley Jr. and Chicago Bulls guard Ronnie Brewer.
"Yeah, I was the worst" of the bunch, Spearmon said. "But I could maybe play ball in Europe."
For now, he'll stick with his day job — sprinting. He's trying to get back to the Olympics and recapture a medal he almost had, only to lose through the lane infraction.
As for his friend Bolt, Spearmon said they chat quite a bit. Bolt, the world-record holder in the 100 and 200, is scheduled to compete in the Jamaican trials this weekend.
Any chance Spearmon tunes in?
"I'll see him this summer. There'll be plenty of time to catch up," Spearmon said. "I'm pretty sure he'll make the team. I'm just focusing on myself."