Sprinters get a break as rules on false starts are softened


OLYMPIC DIGEST:The danger of one inadvertent twitch ruining the greatest day of a sprinter’s life has been removed after athletics’ governing body softened the rules on false starts ahead of the London Olympics.

The little-publicised clarification by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) permits athletes to move in the starting blocks without being disqualified so long as their hands do not leave the ground or their feet the blocks. Previously, such twitching or flinching could have resulted in disqualification at the discretion of the starter.

“The bottom line is, outside of an athlete removing his hands off the track or his feet leaving the blocks, nothing else is a false start,” said David Katz, A member of the IAAF technical committee, yesterday.

The need for improved quality and consistency by starters worldwide had prompted the clarification, said Paul Hardy, IAAF competitions director.

Usain Bolt’s false start at last year’s world championships in Daegu, while a clear violation, only added to the discussion. “This allows a safety valve,” said international starter Tom McTaggart, who has been sending off athletes for more than 40 years. “It takes a little pressure off the starter in general, the recall crew and the athletes. They (the athletes) know ‘I got a second chance here’. Fans may say: ‘that guy moved, so it’s a false start’,” the 1996 Olympics starter said. “It will be a little bit of a learning curve.”

Baton passes from Mills back to Cuddihy for Irish relay team

Catriona Cuddihy has won her appeal against her deselection from the Irish women’s 4 x 400m relay team for the forthcoming Olympic Games. Kilkenny-born Cuddihy (25) was initially named in a six-strong squad ahead of Joanna Mills, whose seasonal best was better than Cuddihy’s, leading to Mills successfully appealing the decision.

But Cuddihy’s original selection was based on a number of different criteria, including experience at major championships, and her appeal against Mills’ inclusion at her expense was upheld by an Athletics Ireland appeal panel (AIAP).

A statement read: “The appeal tribunal found that process for the original selection by the AI high performance relay selectors had been carried out in a fair and proportionate manner. The AIAP in reaching its decision differed with the interpretation of the selectors in the application of two of the eight selection criteria for the women’s relay team on the grounds that their application had been too narrowly applied.”

Mills (19) could still take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

A ringing endorsement

Big Ben is to chime non-stop for three minutes to help ring in the London 2012 Olympics. Special permission had to be gained for the hour bell at the Palace of Westminster to be allowed to toll out of its regular sequence.

It will strike more than 42 times between 8.12am and 8.15am on July 27th to herald the beginning of the first day of the Games.

It will be the first time Big Ben has been rung outside its regular schedule since February 15th, 1952, when it tolled every minute for 56 strokes from 9.30am for the funeral of King George VI.

The chiming for London 2012 will be a live performance as everything will have to be done by hand.

The bells at the National Assembly for Wales, Stormont in Northern Ireland and the Scottish Parliament will also ring so that all four parliaments will be chiming in unison at 8.12am, London 2012 said.

Broadcast rights revenues set to top €3.3 billion B

Revenue from selling broadcasting rights for the Olympic Games between 2014 and 2016 is expected to top $4 billion (€3.3 billion), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said yesterday, with sponsorship revenues also on the rise.

IOC president Jacques Rogge said the organisation’s finances were strong, with reserves more than trebling since 2001. “For the period 2014-16 we already have $3.6 billion and it should reach and exceed $4 billion. TV rights totalled $2.2 billion for the period 2002-4,” Rogge said.

The amount for 2010-2012 was $3.9 billion. The IOC has already generated $2.6 billion in broadcast rights revenues for 2018-2020 with negotiations just starting. The IOC signed their biggest single deal last year, agreeing to sell the US broadcast rights until 2020 to NBC for $4.38 billion.

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