Judgement Day

Duncan Holland writes;

We all know the Olympic motto Citius Altius Fortius which is variously translated but is all about the millimetres and hundredths of a second by which medals are won and lost.  It is possible to measure if an athlete runs faster, or jumps higher, or lifts more weight than another.  As the Games have become more technologically advanced so to has the measuring of tiny differences.

In rowing we now have high speed video cameras to help the judges’ eyes and times are measure to 1/100th of a second.  Not much over a race of 2000m.  (If my maths is correct it is about 50mm)  Now 50mm is not much but it is a clear margin and I, and most rowers, can accept close verdicts with some equanimity.  Every sportsman or woman must eventually come face to face with losing and most do it with some grace.  The perhaps most famous example of this is the victory of Karsten over Neykova in the women’s Single in the Sydney games.  Karsten won by 0.01of a second!

Something I can’t accept is sport where the result is a subjective decision of a judge or panel of judges.  I can’t imagine spending a large part of my life striving for perfection and victory to have it denied by a dubious call from a fallible and possibly corrupt judge.

Stories abound from previous Olympics including the infamous boxing tournament in Seoul in 1988.  Here it seemed clear that home town judges were bribed to promote a local boxer.

But even without corruption human error can creep in.  I watched Craig Fallon fight a judo bout for GB and the commentators told how he had lost a medal in Athens through a dubious last second call and the fall that cost him a shot at the gold in Beijing was also debatable according to the ringside experts.

So what is the answer? I don’t know.  Banning all sports from the Olympics that rely on judgements to decider a winner is not a practical political move.  So I will just remain loyal to rowing as my choice of sport and next time I am involved in a close decision remind myself that at least it is absolute.  In rowing there is no dispute about the result.


2 thoughts on “Judgement Day

  1. Dick Wallin says:

    Hi Duncan,

    You say “In rowing there is no dispute about the result.”

    I wold say that in your support of the Cambridge Bumps this may not however be true… I would cite a photograph you know well in the Old Spring as evidence of that. Each of these crews had a very different view of the incident captured there, no-one viewing the photograph would have any doubt about the “result” yet that viewer would be wrong as you well know and our crew was lucky to have a sympathetic umpire who correctly judged on the validity of the bump claim!


  2. Rebecca Caroe says:

    Duncan, you raise a good point. I just read this about Football and their international governing body responding to professional teams’ reluctance to release players for Beijing.

    The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has ruled that football clubs can stop their U23 players from playing at the Olympics, much to the disappointment of FIFA President Sepp Blatter. The decision comes after Bundesliga sides Werder Bremen and Schalke and Spanish club Barcelona had appealed to the CAS on an earlier ruling from FIFA that stated it was mandatory for clubs to release young players to compete in Beijing.

    Reading this I learn two things
    1 – Football does not view the Olympic Games as the pinnacle of achievement and a major priority in an athletes’ career
    2 – Only U23 players were seen as priorities for the Games

    Therefore I can only suggest that if it isn’t the apex of a sporting career, football should be dropped as an Olympic sport.
    Be the best or just don’t come and compete if you don’t place the highest value on winning an Olympic medal.

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