POP QUIZ: What is the converted FAT time for a hand timed 200m straight or hurdles?
Is Tommie Smith’s WR of 19.5 really equivalent to a 19.74? Or is it “slower”
How about Don Styron’s 200 meter hurdles WR of 21.9 set back in 1960?
This article is not to diminish Smith’s or Styron’s records. They ran what they ran. After all, Smith held 11 world records concurrently and is still not in the Hall of Fame (Geez, perhaps the raised fist caused some ill feelings?)
So when Tyson Gay ran a 19.41 FAT at Manchester, he now has the ultimate world record without controversy.
The Difference between 0.14 and 0.24
Timers use the smoke (not sound) from the gun to start the stopwatch. The closer you are to the gun, the better your visual reaction time to the smoke. Thus for any race where the starter is NOT at the finish line, like 100m and 200m starting lines, the conversion is 0.24 seconds.
For the 400 meters (and 4x100m and 4x400m relay) it is 0.14 seconds.
But wait! The 200m straightway is really far from the finish line! I remember in high school (a long long time ago) I had a hard time seeing the starter for this race. Imagine the timers!
In a research study back in 1973 using timers at the University of Giessen, they concluded:
- timer and starter closest to gun (i.e. 400 meters) averaged a differential of 0.18 seconds
- timer and starter at end of the 100 meter straightaway averaged differential of 0.24 seconds
- timer and starter across the field of the 200 meter curve averaged differential of 0.26 seconds
The 0.24 conversion is “accurate”. How they came up with 0.14 is another story. Maybe it’s just a nice round number, just like the 0.100 reaction time for false starts.
If the above research is a true indication of visual reaction times, what should the conversion be for the 200 meter straightaway?
0.34? If that is the case, is Tommie Smith’s WR of 19.5 really “19.84”? Is Don Styron’s 200 meter hurdles WR of 21.9 really “22.24”?
Progression of the 200 meters straight
Just for historical purposes, here is the progression of WR for the 200 meters straight:
- 21.2 Bernard Wefers (USA) in New York, 30 May 1896
- 21.2 Ralph Craig (USA) in Philadelphia, 28 May 1910
- 21.2 Donald Lippincott (USA) in Cambridge, Mass, 31 May 1913
- 21.2 Howard Drew (USA) in Claremont, 28 Feb 1914
- 21.2 George Parker (USA) in Fresno, 2 Oct 1914
- 20.8 Charlie Paddock (USA) in Berkeley, 26 March 1921
- 20.8 Charlie Paddock (USA) in West Orange, 6 Sept 1924
- 20.6 Roland Locke (USA) in Lincoln, 1 May 1926
- 20.6 Ralph Metcalfe (USA) in Budapest, 12 Aug 1933
- 20.3 Jesse Owens (USA) in Ann Arbor, 25 May 1935
- 20.2 Mel Patton (USA) in Los Angeles, 7 May 1949
- 20.1 David Sime (USA) in Durham, NC, 11 May 1956
- 20.0 David Sime (USA) in Sanger, 9 June 1956
- 20.0 Frank Budd (USA) in Villanova, 12 May 1962
- 20.0 Tommie Smith (USA) in San Jose, 13 March 1965
- 19.5 Tommie Smith (USA) in San Jose, 7 May 1966
- 19.41 Tyson Gay (USA) in Manchester, 16 May 2010