Let's hope Tyson Gay draws lane 1 in his 100-meter sprint at the Olympics. He may get out of the blocks faster.
Researchers looked at results from the 100m and 110m hurdles at the 2004 Olympics, and they also asked 12 untrained participants and four trained sprinters to perform sprint starts. They determined that loud noises, like a starter's pistol, can quicken reaction time, so the closer a sprinter is to the starting gun, the faster he or she launches out of the blocks.
If this study is true - and I have to say, my eyebrows are raised (a pretty small data set for starters, no pun intended) - should the official with the gun stand directly behind the field of sprinters rather than to the side? Or should they dispense altogether with a starting pistol and send the start signal through the megaphone anchored behind each set of blocks - the same megaphone through which the sprinters hear "on your marks" and "set"? Couldn't the megaphone just say "go"?
Peggy Shinn is a freelance contributor for teamusa.org. This blog was not subject to the approval of the United States Olympic Committee or any National Governing Bodies.