Detection of Illegal Race Walking: A Tool to Assist Coaching and Judging

James B. Lee, Rebecca B. Mellifont, Brendan J. Burkett, Daniel A. James

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    Abstract

    Current judging of race walking in international competitions relies on subjective human observation to detect illegal gait, which naturally has inherent problems. Incorrect judging decisions may devastate an athlete and possibly discredit the international governing body. The aim of this study was to determine whether an inertial sensor could improve accuracy, monitor every step the athlete makes in training and/or competition. Seven nationally competitive race walkers performed a series of legal, illegal and self-selected pace races. During testing, athletes wore a single inertial sensor (100 Hz) placed at S1 of the vertebra and were simultaneously filmed using a high-speed camera (125 Hz). Of the 80 steps analyzed the high-speed camera identified 57 as illegal, the inertial sensor misidentified four of these measures (all four missed illegal steps had 0.008 s of loss of ground contact) which is considerably less than the best possible human observation of 0.06 s. Inertial sensor comparison to the camera found the typical error of estimate was 0.02 s (95% confidence limits 0.01-0.02), with a bias of 0.02 (±0.01). An inertial sensor can thus objectively improve the accuracy in detecting illegal steps (loss of ground contact) and, along with the ability to monitor every step of the athlete, could be a valuable tool to assist judges during race walk events.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)16065-16074
    Number of pages10
    JournalSensors
    Volume13
    Issue number12
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2013

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