False start forgiveness

September 13, 2011, 8:53 PM GMT+0

The British public has said that athletes should be given one more chance following a false start, following controversy at the athletics World Championships held earlier this month in South Korea, from which several participants were disqualified due to false starts.

  • 78% think athletes should only be disqualified after a second false start in the same race
  • 10% think a single false start is sufficient
  • There is stronger support in the older 40 to 59 and over 60 age groups, with
  • 81% supporting disqualification after two false starts compared to 67% of 18-24 year olds

The recent world championship, that saw stars such as Olympic champion Usain Bolt and Britain’s own Christine Ohurungo and Dwain Chambers disqualified after one false start, has renewed debate over this rule that was introduced in 2010 to prevent athletes delaying the start of a race.

Change in time for 2012?

With the London Olympics less than a year away, our poll shows that almost 4 out of 5 Brits are against a rule that could see British hopefuls lose out on a chance of competing for a medal. However, British Olympic organiser, Lord Sebastian Coe remains adamant that the rule will remain in place despite disappointment in its results; ‘The issue is very simple for me. You have to be consistent. You have a rule and you don't suddenly revisit it because a high-profile athlete has fallen foul’.

A lesson learnt

Athletes’ opinions have been split when commenting over the matter, with Usain Bolt supporting the implementation of the rule and even calling his disqualification from the 100m race in South Korea a ‘lesson’. Welsh sprinter Christian Malcolm, on the other hand, has called for a change in the rule: ‘I just think in this case, everyone deserves a second chance’, he said.