EUGENE, Ore. -- The legs that carried Melissa Salerno from total obscurity to the ranks of the national elite and into a semifinal of the women's 1,500 meters at the U.S. Olympic trials couldn't carry her any farther at that pace.

"There was nothing left, I gave it absolutely everything I had, my legs were gone," said the 25-year-old graduate of Rocky Point High School and Fordham University after her 4-minute, 16.33-second performance Friday at Hayward Field.

With a lap to go, she was battling for the lead with a pack of other London Olympic hopefuls.

But then reality set in -- along with the cumulative fatigue of a long, tough spring season,

First she got caught in heavy traffic. Then she was nudged off stride. Then she faded out of the picture.

"I went for it," she said of her brash move to the front. "I wanted to make this an honest pace. I wanted to make all those other girls work for it."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The move proved costly. She wound up 12th in her semifinal and 24th overall.

But she was surely the only world-class runner working a full-time job, and hers carries the intensity of a breast cancer research analyst at Manhattan's Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Allyson advances to 200 final. Allyson Felix is looking solid on the track even in the midst of controversy, winning her semifinal heat in the 200. Same with training partner Jeneba Tarmoh, who moments earlier captured her race.

After the 200 final Saturday, these two sprinters will finally address what everyone is anxious to know: Just how they will break their third-place tie in the 100 and decide who earns the final spot to the London Games in the event.

A runoff? A flip of the coin?

@Newsday

Soon, there will be a choice. Maybe even something as simple as one of them surrendering the spot to the other. The controversy has overshadowed everything at the trials.

Including this: Some of the biggest names in U.S. sprinting were missing from the starting blocks in the opening round of the men's 200 meters Friday. Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay were expected to sit out this race after securing spots to London in the 100.-- AP