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Posted: March 7, 2009  :

(RRW) Athletics: Transponder Timing Makes Indoor Debut At European Indoor Championships

From David Monti

© 2009 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved RaceResultsWeekly.com

TORINO (07-Mar) -- Transponder timing is making its indoor debut at the European Indoor Championships here, greatly enhancing the deliver of race data to the media, especially broadcasters.

Known in road racing as "chip" timing, athletes running in the track events of 400m and above are given a flat timing chip which is fixed to the back of their bib numbers. Each time the athletes pass the finish line, their position and times are recorded by the transponder reader which emits an electrical field from beneath the track. This allows the touch-screen monitors which commentators and reporters view at their seats to instantly display the time, gap behind the leader, and running order of each athlete on every lap. The system is accurate to within one-tenth of a second.

The transponder system provides supplemental data to the fully automatic timing (FAT) video system which generates the official times at the finish. However, the video timing is unable to provide instantaneous running order data like the transponder system.

Both systems are marketed by the Swiss company, Omega, and are the same systems used in the Beijing Olympics where transponder timing made it's track debut.

Transponder timing has been in use in road running since the Dutch ChampionChip system made its debut in the mid-1990's. Since then, transponder timing has become the standard for road racing. However, transponders were not used for track events until the Beijing Olympics last summer when Omega's equipment was installed beneath the track surface during the construction process of the stadium. Here in Torino, the track is raised off the floor by about half a meter, allowing the transonder reading equipment to be out of view and off the surface of the track (in road racing the timing mats are placed directly on the roadway covering the transponder cables which emit the electrical field).

At the conclusion of each track race where the transponders are used, they are collected in the mixed zone by meet staff and reused for future races.

PHOTO: Omega transponder timing chip used at 2009 European Indoor Championships (photo by David Monti)


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