PARIS — Newly-designed starting blocks to be used at the London Olympics will “enhance” the performance of athletes, according to the sport’s world governing body, the IAAF, and not slow them down as claimed by Usain Bolt.
The blocks redesigned by Swiss timekeepers Omega for this season’s Diamond League and Olympics came in for criticism last week from none other than Jamaican sprint star Bolt, the world’s fastest man whose voice carries considerable weight.
But the IAAF insisted that changes to the starting blocks, which athletes use in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 4x100m and 4x400m relays, as well as the 100m, 110m and 400m hurdles, would not affect those using them.
“Visually the starting blocks look very different,” an IAAF spokesman told AFP. “Yes, it is true that Omega has changed a few things.
“Actually they redesigned the starting blocks, but the changes have been introduced in order to enhance the measurement of the athlete’s reaction times and to enhance the performance of the athletes.”
Bolt, who stands 1.96m (6’5”) tall and boasts a whopping UK size 13 shoe size, claimed his feet were just too big for the altered blocks. But the IAAF insisted: “The starting blocks haven’t been shortened. “Also, the width of the foot rest has increased from 120mm to 160mm to allow different starting positions and the height has not been adjusted -- it remains at 270mm as in the previously-used version.” — AFP