Seiko Special Website – Official Timer of the IAAF World Championships Moscow 2013


An official race time is measured by super accurate photo finish cameras. As athletes approach a finish line, the cameras produce 2000 vertical images per second and a photograph is produced. The photograph is calibrated by time and allows a judge to accurately decide an official finish time for each athlete. The wind gauge system measures a wind velocity and a wind direction, which are conditions for records to be official. It uses ultrasound technology to sense wind movements in all directions, including vertical. The wind data picked up by the sensor is instantaneously processed, computed for a tail wind direction and displayed in meters per second on the wind velocity display board. The trackside display boards are set up at the four corners of a track for the benefit of athletes and spectators. Before a race, these displays show a name of a next event. When a race begins, they display elapsed time . A count stops at an unofficial finish time generated when a leading runner crosses the finish line and breaks the photo beam. Once the photo finish picture has been examined, an official time is displayed for all to see. The photo beam unit detects each athlete passing through a beam of red and infrared light. These units are used to measure split times for athletes who take the lead and also provide a winner’s unofficial finish time. The unit is set up on either side of the track at such essential locations as a finish line. Light-emitting equipment is placed on one side of the track and light receiving equipment on the other. When an athlete cuts through the beam, a signal is sent to a timer. This system uses four antennas located at  each 100m measurement line on a track to pick up signals from tags  attached to athletes' front bibs. The data collected, including the number of laps and split time, is consolidated into the timing room, and then displayed on stadium's scoreboards as well as provided to TV stations. The Seiko start system controls all elements of the start process: the electronic gun, the start sound, distribution of the start signal, reaction time data and auto recall. They are all linked together within the Seiko start system and also connected to the Seiko timing computer which is used to manage the data. On your marks... set... Then comes the crack of a pistol shot, and a race begins. A starting pistol generates an electronic signal and a bang sound which travels by wire to each starting block and speakers set up around a track at the same instant. The starting blocks contain speakers to relay a start sound to athletes and pressure sensors which detect the exact moment that the athletes push back on the blocks. In 2013, new starting blocks were introduced and the position of the speakers has changed from the rear to the front, so that starter’s voice and a start sound can be heard closer to athletes' ears. Their larger foot plates also allow athletes to push back more forcefully at the start. This system continuously records the pressure applied by each athlete on  their starting block to detect  the moment of pressure change as the athletes reacts to a start signal. A reaction before 1/10 of a second is judged to be a false start. When a false start is detected, a bang sound is automatically generated in less than one second to recall athletes.