Olympic False Start Rule Might Be Unfair

In worldwide sprints, false begins are instantly known as if the athlete’s feet leaves the blocks before a threshold of 100 milliseconds (1/tenth of the second) following the firing from the gun. Automatic pressure sensors within the blocks get this to determination. The IAAF made the decision this threshold in the fact that humans cannot respond to an auditory stimulus in under 1/tenth of the second.

However, new information by Ian Hot dogs in the College of Bc and David Collins in the College of Alberta, indicates that humans can certainly react more rapidly than 1/tenth of the second which this threshold might be unfair.

The Study

Non-sports subjects were strapped right into a chair and told to maneuver a leg following the instructions, “Ready, set, go!” Under such conditions, an ordinary reaction time is all about 200 milliseconds (2/10’s of the second).

Then, exactly the same students were startled with a noisy noise right now the “Go” command was handed. Reaction occasions enhanced significantly. Actually, some occasions clocked in for less than 60 milliseconds – well underneath the IAAF threshold of 100 milliseconds.

Additionally, research carried out by David Collins in the College of Alberta in Edmonton, discovered that 21% of his participants showed reaction occasions quicker than the Olympic threshold of 100 milliseconds.


It’s thought the startle response bypasses normal processing within the cortex from the brain. Since subjects were advised to maneuver their arm as a result of a seem, these arm-movement instructions were pre-designed within the subcortex from the brain. The scientists theorize the startle seem instantly triggered these pre-designed signals – a survival instinct that people all possess.

It requires an additional 10 milliseconds for that body’s electrical signals to achieve distant braches such as the legs. Consequently, the scientists think that 70 milliseconds may be the limit where sprinters can respond to auditory signals. Which is 70 milliseconds that Hot dogs thinks ought to be the false start threshold.

It’s plausible that experienced sprinters can make use of this fast-reaction potential that people all possess.

These studies gives another perspective to occurrences like the 1996 Olympic 100m final, by which British runner Linford Christie grew to become the very first athlete to become disqualified from an Olympic 100m final. Christie am believing that he’d not leaped the gun he declined to depart the track for a few minutes. His reaction time have been recorded at 86 milliseconds.

Cellular this new information, it’s possible that Christie truly did not anticipate the gun coupled with responded fairly.

Frank’s next thing would be to see whether sports athletes could be trained to benefit from the startle reaction to improve their reaction time.


1. Brown, A. M. et al. Mediterranean. Sci. Sports Exerc. 40, 1142-1148 (2008)

2. Peter Calamai, False begins neglect to clock true reaction time: study. The Toronto Star, August 20, 2004.