False starts and missed starts at the Olympics | Strangest Moments

False starts and missed starts at the Olympics | Strangest Moments


For a sprinter, a good start
can be the difference between achieving everlasting glory
and being forgotten forever. It’s no wonder, then, that so
much of a sprinter’s training is geared towards getting out
of the blocks as quickly as possible. In the 1988 Olympic Games, the decathlon field
was historically strong. Defending champion
Daley Thompson was back, and a pair of young
East Germans, Christian Schenk and
Torsten Voss, were looking to make their mark
on the grandest stage. One man who was desperate to make a big impression was West Germany’s
Jurgen Hingsen. He was the world record holder, but had only managed silver in
1984. He was 30 in 1988, in his
prime, and ready to claim the gold that had slipped past him in
Los Angeles. The first event was the 100m, not Hingsen’s favourite
discipline. He would need an excellent
start. He was clearly keen. It was Hingsen again. Decathletes are allowed
two false starts, so he was still in contention. As long as he didn’t… Oh. Despite protesting his
innocence, Hingsen’s campaign was over
before it had begun. His Olympic career
had ended with a whimper. He would never return to the
Games. But Hingsen wasn’t
a full-time sprinter, so his over-eager starting
can be forgiven. Specialist sprinters spend
years perfecting their starts, precisely to avoid situations
like the one Hingsen found himself in. Linford Christie
arrived in Atlanta as defending champion of the
100m. His gold medal in Barcelona had come at the relatively old
age of 32, so, at 36, Atlanta was certain to be his final
Olympic Games. Welcome to the opening
ceremony of the Games… Christie had defied his years
to cruise to the final, winning his second-round heat
ahead of the world champion, Canada’s Donovan Bailey. The line-up for the final
was formidable. Alongside Bailey, there was world number one
Frankie Fredericks, who had finished
behind Christie in 1992 to claim the silver, the USA’s Dennis Mitchell, who earned bronze
in the same race, Ato Bolden, the
superstar-in-waiting who had become the youngest
100m medallist in World Championship history
the previous year… ..and Mike Marsh,
who had won gold in the 200 metres in Barcelona. It was a high-calibre field. There would be no room for
mistakes. Christie knew he’d need to run
the perfect race to retain his title. A rare false start from
Christie. Famously an excellent starter, he knew he’d have to be
flawless today. He’d pushed his luck. One more of those and his Olympic Games career
would be over. Set… Another false start. This time,
young Bolden was at fault. Tension was building.
Third time lucky? Christie looked bemused, but replays seemed to confirm
that he was at fault. His title defence was over,
in heartbreaking circumstances. Or was it? Christie removed the second
flag from his blocks. He was refusing to
accept the verdict. It was remarkable behaviour from the elder statesman of
sprinting. He was asked to leave the
arena, and after holding up the
race for nearly three minutes, he reluctantly stepped away
from the track. He watched on helplessly as he lost his crown to Donovan
Bailey. It was a bizarre end to
the international career of one of the greatest
sprinters in history. But at least Christie made it
onto the track, which is more than
can be said for some. Heading into the
1972 Olympic Games, Rey Robinson
and Eddie Hart were two of the hottest
prospects in sprinting. They were joint
world record holders. Both were tipped to win
medals in the 100m. After qualifying easily from
their first-round heats in the morning, the two young sprinters went
back to the Olympic Village to relax. Their coach, Stan Wright, was looking after their
schedule. He told them that their
second-round heats would not start
until 6pm at the earliest. At 4:15pm, Robinson and Hart
met in the Athletes’ Village and turned the television on. They saw a men’s 100m race. It was the second round. The pictures were live. Confusion set in. Then panic. They hurried to the stadium.
But it was too late. Hart and Robinson missed their
race and were disqualified. Coach Stan Wright had been
working from the wrong schedule. For both young sprinters, their life’s work had
unravelled in front of them. It was devastating. To make matters worse,
the gold was eventually won by Valeriy Borzov
of the USSR, in a time of 10.14 seconds. Robinson and Hart had both
run 9.95 seconds earlier that year. Neither Robinson nor Hart
would ever win an Olympic medal in an individual event. Their golden,
once-in-a-lifetime chance had been blown
in gut-wrenching circumstances. So, next time you sleep through
your alarm clock, and you get that
sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach, try
to imagine how Rey Robinson and Eddie Hart felt when they turned on that
television.

100 Replies to “False starts and missed starts at the Olympics | Strangest Moments”

  1. Imagine getting through a lot of pains and a lot of hardwork, just to be disqualified in less than a second

  2. Im not a track person, so literally I can’t tell the difference between any of the false starts?? Also the guys who didn’t make their race…that is devastating I’d be so mad at the coach like wow AT THE OLYMPICS…he messed up

  3. i can run the hunder metres in 9 seconds but every single time i false start so it never happens

  4. Are they allowed 2 false starts in the same race or just in that one games or in all? What happens when they get one?

  5. Didnt seem like some were false starts. Just a faster reaction. They went on the sound of the gun, not before

  6. Hey, cameraman what are you doing here? Well, I'm making a documentary of you two missing your all important race. Oh I see that is interesting information.

  7. That last one sounded like a deliberate set-up, as if the coach had been paid off to give them the wrong time.

  8. The claim that Hart and Robinson ran 9.95 is false. Hundredths of a second were not recorded when hand timing was used. They ran a hand timed 9.9 in Eugene Oregon which roughly equated to 10.1 electronic timing. Since Borzov ran 10.14 in the final when easing up at the finish they were certainly not sure of a gold. Borzov showed his class by demolishing the best Americans in the 200m a few days later.

  9. Olympic, please get your facts right, Hart and Robinson times where not 9.95 in fact they were 9.9 hand timed, equating to 10.14 adjusted, Borzov ran 10.07 electronically, so please do not post inaccurate information.

  10. Did the East German decathlete really false start, or did he just take so many steroids that he could time travel?

  11. thought it at the time still think it now,its disgraceful the false starts disqualified hingsen from the whole competition,it should be just the 100m,what a pathetic rule

  12. It was later proven that Linford Christie didn't incur a second false start, but you neglect to mention that fact.

  13. Just because a decathlete has a great start and beats everyone out of the block does not prove he false started. A runner who gets a great start is often penalized for starting at the moment of the gunfire. He doesnt appear to start before the gun, but 'at' the gun fired. Too bad for him.

  14. I don’t understand these false starts. Especially when they are like .02 seconds early. Is it crazy to believe they just react faster? The gun had already gone off wel before they moved

  15. From those replays, the people who got disqualified went as soon as the gun fired and got disqualified so weren't they just good starts?

  16. It happened with me too once in school exam. I prepared for history paper but in exam hall it turned out to be geography paper. It was gut wrenching for me.

  17. Sorry for my ignorance in this discipline .. but if the referee sees that two people are missing in the starting lanes .. nobody warns anyone?

  18. Years of blood, sweat, and tears to get only two chances to keep your entire career alive? Seems extremely unfair.

  19. That 2nd false start was definitely wrong. Replays confirm he started faster than the rest of the runners, not that he started before the gunshot. He just simply had a better start than the rest of the runners, it doesn't mean he was at fault.

  20. Some of these "false starts" seem to be highly subjective. How is it measured? With the human eye? Surely there can be pressure plates installed on the starting block connected to the pistol trigger (or a microphone system that listens at the same time). It wouldn't even be an expensive set up for the average person, let alone an event as large as the Olympics. That way, things are significantly less subjective

  21. "forgotten for ever", "only managed silver"
    these guys are still Olympic athletes, he "only managed silver" at the Olympics, that's not something you can belittle like that, c'mon

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