It’s clear that the sprinter in the middle crossed the finish line first. But in Olympic races, it’s often not easy to tell who won the race.
Amazing But True!
- When world-class athletes compete, the winning athlete may be just a split second ahead of the athlete in second place.
- Knowing who won, as well as everyone’s time, requires both accuracy and precision. An Olympic medal may be resting on it!
- Since the “modern” Olympics began in 1896, measuring the time of champions has come a long way.
Accurate timing technology is key to determine the outcome of the race
- Today, differences as small as one-thousandth of a second can be measured! How do they do it? Watch this video to find out:
Show What You Know
Use the link below to learn more about measuring athlete’s times in Olympic events. Then answer the following questions.
- What types of technologies are presently used to measure the times of Olympic athletes?
- Define the measurement concepts of accuracy and precision.
- How is a false start determined in a track event?
- In track events, how are lasers, cameras, and computers used to give judges a picture of the finish?
- What technology is used to determine when swimmers finish their race?
- How are radio-frequency tags (RFIDs) used to time long-distance runners?
- How were athlete’s times measured in the first “modern” Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, in 1896?
- When were each of the following technologies introduced to the Olympic Games: cameras, photoelectric cells, pressure-sensitive contact pads, and radio transponders?