Electronic Control of the Competitions of Race Walking
More than 10 years ago, the IAAF (International Athletics Federation) decided that in Race Walking competitions (the sport in which athletes must advance as quickly as possible but without running), electronic communication systems should be used for transmission of the proposals of disqualification of the judges to the results system to avoid disqualifications once the competition is over, or to avoid as far as possible that an already disqualified athlete continues competing, and therefore, distorting the competition.
In international competition its use is mandatory, although this, despite it was so much time, is still not fulfilled today.
In this article I will analyze the technology that is already available in the market that far from what some may think, in some cases it is very affordable, and finally I will show a future option that many of you will be surprised.
For those who are not related to the operation of the Race Walking, I will explain how to proceed to judge the Race Walking.
To control that the athletes do not run but walk, a number of between 5 and 9 judges is distributed by the circuit. These judges will assess subjectively if the athlete runs or walks according to two parameters:
- If the athlete does not have his leg perfectly stretched at the moment when he is perpendicular to the ground, the athlete commits a violation by Blend.
- If the athlete at any time is observed with both feet in the air, the athlete commits an infraction for Loss of Contact.
The problem is that both infractions usually happen in thousandths of a second, so it has often been discussed if they are perceptible by the human eye. Even the IAAF, came to do a study of this, concluding that the age, fatigue, and visual ability of each judge influences the final result.
Except in very obvious cases in which a race walker athlete emulates Usain Bolt in an Olympic final, the judges must resort to the observation of other signals that may indicate that this is happening since to meet these requirements at an adequate speed of competition, both the hips as the shoulders tend to move in a certain way that is easier to observe.
But in any case, the judge's final decision is subjective.
Therefore, an athlete must receive up to three proposals of disqualification from different judges to be finally disqualified. But this sometimes does not happen, or it happens too late when the athlete has already finished the event.