Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bolt on his own starting blocks and set to go

THE world's fastest man, Usain Bolt, has bought a set of Omega Timing's new Olympic starting blocks at a cost of $4700 in a bid to improve his start ahead of his Olympic gold medal defence.

Bolt has had problems with his start since he was disqualified from the 100m semi-final at last year's world titles for a false start. He was also noticeably slow out of the blocks at last month's Jamaican Olympic trials, where he was beaten by his fast-starting young training partner, Yohan Blake, in both the 100m and 200m.

Bolt, who complained about the new blocks designed for the Games after winning the 100m in Oslo last month, has now had a set delivered to the Jamaican team's training base in Birmingham.

Omega Timing spokesman Peter Hurzeler confirmed that Bolt was the only athlete who had requested a personal set of blocks.

"I said, OK, I'll sell you one," Hurzeler said."All the others have nothing. If you want, you pay for one."

The new starting block design, which features a narrower central bar and wider footrests, has been in use during the Diamond League season this year to allow the athletes to adjust to them ahead of the Games.

But Bolt took an immediate dislike to them, and spoke out after three meets about using them at the Games.

"Personally, I think they need to go back to the old blocks," Bolt said after trying them at three meets in Europe.

"The new ones are a bit too short for me. I am a UK shoe size 13 so my feet are big, and I can't get my blocks set the way they normally are. I'm guessing where they should go. I got it good in Rome but not here.

"My reaction time was good, but when I came out of the blocks the execution was not. I wasn't as comfortable as I should have been. The first 30m wasn't as good as it should have been."

Hurzeler discussed the matter with Bolt's management and offered to conduct a personal clinic with him to help him adjust to the new design at the Diamond League meet in Monaco last weekend, but Bolt withdrew from the competition with a slight injury and asked if he could get a set of the blocks sent to him.

"His manager was not happy that I went to the press with this story but I said to him, he went to the press and said this block is a problem, so I have to defend our position," he said. "Everyone sent me emails, asking what is happening with these new blocks."

Hurzeler said Bolt was the only leading athlete who had complained about the new blocks, which had been tested with a range of leading sprinters during the design phase, including Australia's world champion hurdler Sally Pearson and former world 100m record-holder Asafa Powell.

The blocks were redesigned to give athletes a great range of starting positions, with particular consideration for female athletes who prefer to start with their feet closer together than male athletes.

They also feature a new electronic feature that measures false starts more accurately.

"All the others say it's fantastic, they were so happy," Hurzeler said. "I was in Monaco for the track and field meet and they had all the Americans there for the 4x100m relays and I was talking with everyone and they said fantastic, the new system, it's great, it's not moving at all, and so on."

Hurzeler said the blocks were redesigned in order to assist the athletes.

"We are always proud if we can do something for the athletes, because they are our clients, not the organising committee or the Olympic committee or the referees," he said. "Our clients are the athletes and we have to do the best for them that they are feeling really relaxed and good. That's our job, to make them happy, and no one else."

Hurzeler revealed that the timing experts had laid 60km of cable in the Olympic stadium to measure everything that moved.

credit theaustralian