August 25, 2011 10:33
Cutting-edge technology will ensure the most accurate recordings of time and distance in the track and field events at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu from Aug. 27 to Sept. 4.
The photo finish system, which takes as many as 2,000 pictures per second and costs W120 million (US$1=W1,082) per set-up, will make sure that track stars like Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell of Jamaica do not feel cheated should they cross the finish line neck-and-neck due to its phenomenal level of precision timing.
Meanwhile, for the first time at a World Championships, a video distance measurement system will be introduced for long jump events. Two cameras set up at each side of the sandpit will capture images of the athlete's landing, with these immediately displayed on a computer screen and the distance measured automatically. At a whopping W1.1 billion, this ranks as the most expensive piece of measuring equipment in the sports world.
Starting blocks will also be used to monitor competitors' reaction times at the beginning of the running competitions. The devices have sensors that detect pressure from the athlete's feet and can be used to time their reaction to the starting gun.
In theory, it takes 0.08 seconds for the ear to send aural information to the brain, and at least another 0.02 seconds for the muscles to react. Therefore, athletes who react faster than 0.1 seconds may reasonably be considered to have made a false start.
Organizers have also agreed to use a transponder system to provide data on records and speed for events like the marathon and race walking, as well as the long-distance runs. This helps identify competitors at any given time by placing transponder chips in the name tags that are clipped to the athlete’s clothing. These communicate with sensors on the track to effectively track the movements of runners and calculate their speeds.
In the throwing competitions, an optical distance measurement system will be applied to gauge distances by fixing a laser beam on the spot where the hurled object -- be it a discus, shot put or javelin -- lands.
Fortunately for the organizers of the latest Worlds, they will not have to fork out the W6 billion price tag for all of this state-of-the-art equipment as official sponsor Seiko is providing it free of charge.
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