Friday, September 17, 2021
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The Sports Archive – Olympic time!

When Usain Bolt lined up for the start of the Olympic men’s 100-meter final this summer, the eyes of the world will be on the clock to see if he can beat his own world record. The days when world sprint records were smashed with seconds are long gone, and if Bolt achieves a new world record, he will shave as little as a hundredth of the current best time. Measurement accuracy is critical in sports, and technology has evolved rapidly over the last century.

Usain Bolt


The one brand most associated with the measurement of sports timing is that of Omega, the company whose connections to the Olympics go as far back as 1932. The stopwatch that was used 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles it was exactly only a full second, and although at the time it served its purpose, a more accurate chronograph is required today. Omega is still at the forefront of timekeeping at sporting events today, although measurements today are made electronically rather than manually.


Advances in sports timing technology meant that chronograph or stopwatch features were more commonly added to standard wristwatches. People who were involved in sports such as Jogging or swimming wanted to be able to accurately time self over a given distance. Most often, a small stopwatch is located in the center of the face so as not to distract from the main dial. A classic design like the men’s Emporio Armani Chronograph watch is not dated and allows for accurate sports time in the coming years.

Running events

Electronics and computer technology are strong in track and field timing for this summer’s Olympics in London. When the starter fires its gun, the watch starts automatically. When the runners cross the line at the end of the race, the clock stops automatically. This is done by directing a beam of light over the finish line, which is refracted by the first athlete crossing. In longer runs such as marathon, each competitor carries a small transmitter in the shoe and this stops the clock as they cross the finish line. This makes it easier to measure the times of many dozens of athletes. While the use of a watch like the Emporio Armani Chronograph for men may be accurate enough to measure winning time, that kind of stopwatch cannot handle multiple timings.

Field events

Until relatively recently, they threw or jumped distances in field events such as spear, diskus or long jump was measured by a team of officials with a tape measure. Today, although there will still be officials with their tape measure at the stadium for backup if something goes wrong, the distances are now calculated using a complicated mathematical formula based on the landing point, the starting point and another fixed point. The calculations involved are similar to those used by civil engineers when measuring distances to build new roads, and using the same kind of equipment.


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