What do you think of the new false-start rule in the Olympics?

It is not just for the Olympics, but for all “pro level” Track and Field, I believe. Correct me if I am wrong there.

Anyway, they now have a zero tolerance policy for false starts. One false start and you are disqualified.

This is actually how it is in High School, at least in Michigan, but we always pointed out to the kids that High School is oddly stricter than the Olympic level. Now, we’re the same.

What do you think the rule should be for Olympic level Track?

I voted for them being allowed one false start. On these guys/girls level, their timing is so precise, they should be allowed a false start. They are literally going for world records, here; I think we can allow one false start before DQing them.

It seems like this will kind of protect current World Records, since no one wants to risk a DQ.

I think it’s harsh as hell. If I had trained for 12 or 15 years to get to the Olympics, and my nervousness or a muscle spasm or some other innocuous thing caused me to twitch before the gun went off, I’d be freaking PISSED off that I was now disqualified.

What is the rationale for this rule instead of DQ on the 2nd false start?

It’s been in effect since Jan. 2010.
It’s nationwide at the high school level.

If it weren’t for all the games the sprinters played, it wouldn’t have been necessary.

From this story.

Oh, boo-hoo. Poor babies can’t get an unfair advantage.

Well, if I’m not mistaken the current (or previous, I guess) rule is that after the first false start a racer is DQ’d whether or not he/she was the one who had the first false start. This rule always struck me as fundamentally unfair, and the new one at least fixes that problem.

Anyways, the entire system with the long irregular pause before the gun is just stupid. They oughta use drag racing-style christmas trees tied to the starting block sensors. Then you can anticipate the green, but if you anticipate it too much you’re out. And just let them go, DQ the early starters after the race. There’s no need to constantly restart races.

Where would you put the lights? Sprinters typically start head down looking at the track to minimize distractions. You would need separate sets for the 100m/110m hurdles, 200m, 400/400m hurdles.

A good starter will try to alter the timing between the “set” command and the gun to avoid runners anticipating the shot.

This is the part I find ridiculous.


I’m not sure what you mean or are referring to by “unfair advantage”.

The fastest reaction time I’ve seen is .14 sec. If you anticipate the gun, start moving and leave the blocks .09 sec. after the gun, you have an advantage over the rest of the field. At the world class level, that can be plenty to win a race and maybe set a record. If everyone waits to react to the gun, it’s a fair race.

The electronic blocks used at high level events will register a false start if any runner leaves in under .10 sec.

No real need for actual lights, just make the countdown an audible beeping sequence.

But what is the advantage over the current starting gun?

The start would be a known quantity, nobody has to react or guess or start late due to worrying about false starting. A randomly-timed gunshot is pretty stupid.

Do the sprinters closer to the gun get an advantage?
Speed of sound at sea level = 340.29 m/s
Time for sound to travel ten metres = 0.029 seconds
So lane 1 hears the gun almost 0.03 seconds before lane 8.
I’d imagine the gap is even more pronounced where the lanes are staggered

This page says the runner in lane 8 in a 400m race starts 53 metres ahead of the runner in lane 1 - so lane 8 will hear the gun 0.155 seconds after lane 1.

And after all that I then found a pagesaying the top level events have moved to ‘silent guns’ with the sound being generated by speakers in each sprinters blocks to avoid this problem. Interestingly that page’s author believes the 0.1 second reaction time threshold is too generous, and any start before 0.12 seconds is likely to be in anticipation of the gun.

Maybe the reacting is part of the sport.

Perhaps I’m wrong, but the gun is not on sight for top level runners. They each have a speaker by their starting blocks that the gun is heard through.

I was never a track and field guy, but I was a swimmer, and the rule for swimming has always been elimination after any false start. I always thought it weird that the runners had a, at least superficially, much less stringent rule.

But the start is a known quality. BANG!

Everybody gets the same signal at the same time, no one has an advantage by correctly guessing when the start signal will be.

I’d prefer there was a timed countdown and then a start signal. Either way, false starts are annoying.

I wonder why they never considered a starting gate for track & field.