Jason Gardener's wind

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Jason Gardener's wind

Postby johnclark » Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:32 pm

I've been looking a lot at wind readings and am slowing coming to the conclusion that while most wind readings look plausible, there are some real howlers as well (pun intended).

I'll give a rather obscure example, from the 2005 World Championship 100 meters.

In the heats, all held roughly between 11am and noon, the wind readings were:
+0.6 +0.9 +0.9 +0.4 +0.0 +0.3 +0.4 -1.4

In the quarter finals, all held around 7pm on the same day, the wind readings were:
-2.0 -1.2 +0.7 -1.0

In the semi finals, held around 7:30pm the next evening, the wind readings were:
+0.5 -1.0

The final, held around 9:30pm the same evening, had a wind reading of +0.4

The problem comes when you look at the times of Jason Gardener.

He ran in the last of the heats, and won it in a time of 10.19. You can't read much into that, since the best runners don't try that hard in the heats, although I note that the average time for the winners in the other heats (all with tail winds) was also 10.19.

He then ran in the third of the quarter finals, the only one with a tail wind. Gardener came third, just in front of Joshua Ross but with exactly the same time of 10.31. Both of them qualified, but only just. Gardener should have been trying hard in this race - he was not one of the medal contenders.

The problem is that, according to the wind readings, Gardener ran a 10.19 into a 1.4 m/s headwind when he had no reason to be trying that hard, and then ran a 10.31 with a 0.7 m/s tailwind when he had every reason to be trying hard. That just does not make sense.

To add further confusion, Gardener then ran a 10.08 in his semi-final into a 1.0 m/s headwind!

Perhaps Gardener injured himself in the quarter final? Or simply misread the pace of the race, almost with tragic results (like Ben Johnson in 1988 quarters). I think that is unlikely, because another runner, Deji Aliu of Nigeria, also ran in the same heat and quarter final, with similar results. He ran 10.36 into the headwind in the heat and then 10.39 with the tailwind in the quarter final.

I think its reasonable to think that the wind readings were wrong for both the heat and the quarter final. All of the other wind readings for the heats were in the range of a slight tailwind and all of the other wind readings for the quarter finals were in the range of a reasonable headwind. The times of Gardener and Aliu support the contention that the wind readings in their races were similar to the other races, rather than what was recorded.

If this is correct then it is a bit disappointing - it would be nice to be able to rely on the wind readings but perhaps that just is not possible. Or perhaps its a one-off? I doubt it though - there is enough anecdotal evidence to suggest that wind readings can very wrong - FloJo's world record, the 1980 100m men's final, the 200m men's semi-finals in 1972.
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Re: Jason Gardener's wind

Postby Rog » Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:05 am

Wind readings do appear inaccurate from time to time. The women's 100 final in Barcelona 92 was supposedly run into a headwind of 1 m/s, yet there were 5 women inside 10.9, which seemed unlikely in adverse conditions - I remember reading that the guage had been set up back to front!

There's a lot of talk of conversion factors to try to produce an adjusted time to reflect no wind at all, which is an interesting statistical concept, but there seems to be an assumption that the wind either blows right behind or clean against. The real world isn't like that, and the application of adjustment doesn't carry across as a result.
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Re: Jason Gardener's wind

Postby mump boy » Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:29 am

There are lots of reasons that races can be slower despite the wind. WHat was the temperature, what were the start times, maybe they were trying harder and tightened up and don't forget the Helsinki had the strangest weather i've ever seen at a major champs
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Re: Jason Gardener's wind

Postby Pierre-Jean » Wed Oct 24, 2012 2:25 pm

Wind reading is accurate about what happens at the place where the wind gauge is recording.

In Helsinki, the winds were swirling as the various flags on different places of the stadium were shown opposite directions. And the wind reading looked random. It was even more obvious during men's 200m heats. That's really a problem when qualifications are based on times.
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Re: Jason Gardener's wind

Postby lonewolf » Wed Oct 24, 2012 2:46 pm

Pierre-Jean wrote:Wind reading is accurate about what happens at the place where the wind gauge is recording...

And there you have it...assuming it is correctly placed and oriented in the right direction.
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Re: Jason Gardener's wind

Postby Pierre-Jean » Thu Oct 25, 2012 11:14 am

Assuming the wind gauges are correctly oriented in the right direction, if they are set up at different places of the track they will give different wind readings for the same event.
It is known since 1932 Olympics were the gauges were placed at the start mid way and finish of the 100m final, the readings were + and -. Based on these findings it was decided during Berlin'36 congress that... only one wind gauge will be used :-/ Given the huge swirling winds in Helsinki'05, it turns out that the 100m result timing is a better indicator of the wind assistance than the wind gauge!
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