If Usain Bolt ran 40 Years Ago (i.e. 1975), his 200m time would be 18.9 seconds hand timed.
It wasn’t until 1977 when FAT (fully automatic timing) were required for World Record purposes, despite having electronic timing in 1932!
Here is a screen shot to show Usain Bolt’s “TV hand time” (it deserves a special class).
The Difference between 0.14 and 0.24
Timers use the smoke (not sound) from the gun to start the manual 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, such as 100m and 200m starting lines, the conversion is 0.24 seconds.
But for the 400 meters (and 4x100m and 4x400m relay) it is 0.14 seconds.
So Usain Bolt’s hand time of 18.9 would “convert” to 19.14 seconds (yes, we know he ran 19.19!)
But there is more…
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” for 100m, but maybe the 200m curve should be different? So Usain Bolt’s hand time of 18.9 would “convert” to 19.16 seconds (and yes, we are getting closer)
How they came up with 0.14 for 100m is another story. Maybe it’s just a nice round number, just like the 0.100 reaction time for false starts. The world likes to work in nice even numbers!
And how about that 200m straightway? The start 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. (Yes, I also ran the 200m straightaway once, and it was worse than a 400m!)
Imagine the timers! You need a telescope!
Thankfully, we are living in 2015. If only the drug news would go away.