Bolt’s false start and Blake’s “twitch” – the actual start block data explained  //  Blake's twitch doesn't register

30 Aug 2011 Posted by

This is a final post on the Bolt false start controversy, since as you’ll all know, there was some talk that Yohan Blake in Lane 6 (immediately to Bolt’s right) might have “twitched” while in the “set” position, and that perhaps he should have received the false start, that he “pushed” Bolt into the false start.

So can see in the video to my previous post on this subject.

If you look over to the right hand side in Blake’s pressure graph, you’ll see that when he did eventually start (153 ms after the gun), the pressure it took was slightly higher than the pressure registered during his twitch.  I have drawn a dashed green line across from the pressure threshold, and you can see that while the twitch came close to the required level, it was NOT sufficient to trigger the sensors.  Had that twitch been any larger, then Blake would have exceeded the limit, and it would have constituted either a false or faulty start.

This says to me that it would be a pretty tough call to say that Yohan Blake is guilty of a false start, given that the sensitive equipment could not detect it.  It would have been up to the recallers watching the athletes, and it was really a very small movement, only detected later in HD slow motion replays.  Of course, technically, he twitched, and that is, by definition, grounds for at least an aborted start.  But the data say the twitch was tiny, and let’s be honest – if Blake was DQd for that, he might have been justifiably upset with the call himself!  So I would conclude that in the end, the right decision was made, even if the technically correct conclusion is that this twitch should have been picked up.  So I’ll go with option three in that list above!

Just to add one last though – you can see Bolt’s start on the graph above – it comes 104 ms BEFORE the gun even goes off (so it’s 204ms before the legal limit), but then you didn’t need data to tell you that!  What this graph doesn’t say is whether it was Blake’s twitch (however small) that caused Bolt to jump, or whether Bolt would have gone anyway.  That remains a point of discussion I guess.  Regardless, it’s all just conjecture now, the race is in the books!


P.S.  Let me take this chance to also correct an error in the post I did earlier today – I said that the bronze medal in the men’s 400m was won by Jonathan Borlee.  It was in fact KEVIN Borlee who claimed third, while Jonathan was fifth!  The danger of identical twins!

Enjoy the rest day tomorrow!

This post is part of the thread: World Championships – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.

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