ATHLETICS is one of the only sports where up to seven different events can be taking place at the same time on one field of play.
Only the most experienced skilful technicians can deliver a flawless competition using the most sophisticated hardware and software, developed and tuned to the precision of the sport.
In ATHLETICS, measurements are made for the athletes time around the track, distances jumped and thrown, and wind velocity and direction during competition. Outside the stadium, there are road races to be managed, which can expand the playing area citywide, or even beyond.
Exciting new technologies have, and are being designed and put in place to facilitate the officials´ job, increase the accuracy of the results and to satisfy the demand for faster and more detailed publication of the official results.
How does it work?
For sprint races up to 400m included, the start is a key factor to a successful race. This is one of the reasons why the response time of each athlete is measured.
To achieve this, each starting block is connected to an automatic false start control system. A detected false start is signalled to the starter, the athletes and the public immediately.
Historically, the starting device was a pistol loaded with blank cartridges, but recently the safer and more consistant electronic version is being used.
This starting device is connected to both the false start system and the control room where it will trigger all the different timing devices.
On the track, photo cells are installed to capture the split times of the leader and at the finish, double photo cells are used to stop the finish time (unofficial) on the scoreboards, TV Graphics etc.
The official times and the placing are read from a photo finish image. Up to three digital slit cameras Scan'O'´Vision are used to capture the photo finish. The main and the back up cameras are located on the outside of the track with an ideal angle of 30°. The infield camera gives the same image but from the other side of the track, therefore if a runner is hidden behind another, he will be seen from this camera position.
An ultrasonic anemometer calculates the average wind speed parallel with the finish straight during all races up to 200m. Any record breaking performance in a wind greater than +2m per second is only recognised as "wind assisted" and does not change the record books.
All field events fall into one of three categories, each with special requirements.
Horizontal jumps require the length of the jump and the wind velocity in the direction of the jump to be measured.
For the distance measurement, an EDM (Electronic Distance Measurement) is used and for the wind velocity, an ultra-sonic wind-gauge.
On special occasions, we also measure the hop and step elements of the triple jump, and the distance to the take off area using VDM (Video Distance Measurement).
In vertical jumps, the collection and the handling of the results is done from the technical table in collaboration with the officials.
For throws, the length of the throw is measured using an EDM (Electronic Distance Measurement) and the display of the information is done on what is normally called the ”Field Event Board”. Historically, two sided rotating boards were used, but since Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, we also propose three sided boards, they allow a perfect view from almost anywhere in the stadium.
We also have introduced the next competitor indicator, it is a smaller board located in front of the athletes´ bench to show the name and bib number of the next athlete to compete.
Athletes´ preparation time and wind velocity are displayed on smaller public displays.
The start of a road race can be either in the stadium, or somewhere remote such as a city centre. The start time is transmitted to the control room at the stadium where the race will be followed and the data distrubuted.
Road races are timed using 1/10th of a second precision, and then recorded to the whole second. All read times not ending in zero shall be converted and recorded to the next longer whole second, e.g. for the Marathon, 2:09:44.3 would be recorded as 2:09:45.
Each runner is equipped with a small transponder, normally attached to one of his shoes. This transponder identifies and times the runner at intermediate points around the course and, at the finish line, the same transponder will give the official time (as per IAAF rule 165) and ranking of the finishing runner.
The following intermediate times are taken:
- Marathon: every 5km and the half marathon point
- Race walk 20km: every 2km
- Race walk 50km: every 5km
An antenna loop is installed in the road at each point, and the runners unique ID is read from the transponder as he passes over it. The ID is passed to a connected timer which in turn is connected to the control room at the main stadium, either via wired modem lines or using GPRS technology for wireless transmission. This data will be fed to the OVR in real time. All the data is processed and is instantly available as elapsed time, gaps between competitors, comparisons to record splits etc to be inserted into live television pictures or scoreboard displays.
For walking races, we use two additional devices specially designed for the particular requirements of this discipline:
The automatic lap counter; it consists of a scoreboard located next to the race course, it is connected to a transponder antenna that will automatically increment the number of laps completed whenever an athlete crosses this point. Then the number of laps to go for each athlete passing by can be displayed.
The Red Card management system: 6 to 9 judges are equipped with a small device where they can enter the bib number and the type of warning they are giving whenever they think it is necessary. This information is transmitted wirelessly to the monitoring system provided to the Chief Judge who can in real time check who´s been warned. A public display will show bib number and number of Red Cards attibuted per athlete. This system is also connected to the OVR at the main stadium.
Scope of service
- timing and scoring
- OVR (On Venue Results)
- display of photo finish picture
- TV Graphics
- virtual graphics.
Timing and Scoring
- Measuring of all reaction times, split times, finish times for road races and track races.
- Measuring of wind velocity for sprint races and horizontal jumps.
- Measuring of distances for all horizontal jumps and throws.
- Measuring the height of the bar for pole vault.
- Automatic detection of false start for all races up to 400m included.
- Display of timing information on sport scoreboards on the track and on TV.
- Display of scoring information on sport specific scoreboard on the field.
- Display of information for the athletes such as: laps to go, concentration time, next competitor to jump or throw.
- Seeding and printing of start lists, data entry and results production according to ORIS specifications and IAAF regulations.
- Provision of start and qualifying lists, results and summaries to real-time displays such as scoreboards.
- Statistics and medal tables.
- Live results to TV graphics, information systems and Internet.
- Automatic monitoring of world and international records.
- Touch screen CIS, providing detailed race information, statistics and history of the competition.
- Time delayed information on the internet.
- Production of online graphics in SD and HD.
- Display of running time, two different records, intermediate and finish times.
- Distance at splits, km times, lap times, laps to go, gaps, average speed, effective wind speed calculation for sprints.
- Reaction times and official false start information.
- Display of photo finish picture.
- Display of start lists, intermediate and final results.
- Presentation of athletes information.
- Provision of cup standings and other special rankings.
- Start list with name and flag on the track surface.
- Various record lines on the field for throwing and jumping events.
- Distance to beat for field events.