Olympic Glory

Olympic Glory

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A Short History Of Olympic Games Timing

The Beijing 2008 Summer Games will mark the 23rd time that Omega has served as Official Timekeeper at the Olympics

1898 – Omega made its first stopwatch

1896 – First ‘modern’ Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Stopwatches used to determine winners’ times

1905 – Omega stopwatches used to time 16 sporting competitions in Switzerland and abroad

1909 – In its first appearance as official timekeeper of an international event, Omega timed the Gordon Bennett balloon race in Zurich

1912 – Stockholm, Sweden; Electrical timing and photo finish first used

1916 – Omega made initial contact with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on the occasion of competitions held in Lausanne to celebrate the IOC’s 25th anniversary

1920s – In the Antwerp, Belgium (1920); Paris, France (1924); and Amsterdam, Holland (1928) Olympic Games, chronographs used for the first time to measure to the 100th of a second

1932 – For the first time in the history of the Olympic Movement, the IOC assigned responsibility for official timekeeping at all events to a single company – Omega. Omega sent 30 Calibre 1130 stopwatches and one watchmaker to the Los Angeles 1932 Games. The Omega stopwatches sent to Los Angeles enabled officials to time competitions, for the first time, to the nearest 1/10th of a second

1936 – Omega provided 27 stopwatches for use at the 1936 Garmisch- Partenkirchen Olympic Winter Games. Later that year, Omega sent 185 stopwatches to Berlin for use at the Berlin 1936 Games and set up a workshop so that any necessary repairs could be carried out on-site

1945 – Omega built an independent compact photoelectric cell for use at the start or end of races in various disciplines. Photocell units gradually replaced the use of the Muybridge string or finishing tape, the first modern timing trigger

1948 – The Racend Omega Timer, the world’s first photo-finish camera, made its debut at the London 1948 Games. The camera that films time revolutionised sports timekeeping. Since all the functions were electronic, the level of accuracy was given to the nearest 1/1000th of a second. This surpassed by far all previous devices like the finishing tape and hydro-pneumatic tube

1952 – Omega introduced its battery-powered, quartz-driven Omega Time Recorder equipped with a high-speed printer able to print out times to the nearest 1/100th of a second, at the Helsinki 1952 Games

1952 – Omega awarded the IOC Cross of Merit for outstanding service to the world of sport, for the unfailing reliability of Omega timekeeping and for its numerous innovations in this area

1956 – Starting gates used for the first time in Alpine skiing, at the Cortina d’Ampezzo (Italy) 1956 Winter Games

1956 – Omega introduced the first semi-automatic timing device with a digital display, the Swim Eight-O-Matic, at the Melbourne 1956 Games

1960 – The Rome Olympic Games saw the introduction by Omega of giant electronic scoreboards in the Palazzo and Palazzetto dello Sport venues These were the forerunners of the giant video matrix scoreboards found in most modern sports stadiums around the world today

1961 – Omega presented the Omegascope, a timekeeping device allowing the time of each competitor followed by a camera to be superimposed on the TV screen image

1964 – A new version of the OmegaScope introduced

1966 – The International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) recognized electronically recorded race times as official

1968 – For the first time Omega touchpads used in Olympic swimming competitions, at the Mexico City 1968 Games. The Swim‘O’Matic was accurate to the nearest 1/1000th of a second

1968 – The Omega Photosprint used in athletics to film all runners as they crossed the finish line. Time was thus linked with photography and modern sports timekeeping was born

1976 – The Omega video matrix board used in the Montreal 1976 Games

1979 – Omega introduced the first false-start detection system for athletics races

1980 – The Lake Placid 1980 Winter Games saw the first use at an Olympic Games of the Omega Game-O-Matic in Alpine skiing

1984 – At the Los Angeles Olympics pressure-sensitive false start detectors used in both athletics and swimming

1988 – In the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games, a 14x9m colour video matrix installed at the Olympic stadium

1992 – The Omega Scan-O-Vision photofinish system using a linear vertical recording technology appeared for the first time at the Albertville Winter Olympic Games

1996 – Global Positioning Technology (GPS) used at the Atlanta Olympic Games to plot the position of the boats in the sailing regattas in Savannah. Radar guns used to measure acceleration of sprinters

2000 – Omega introduced “live timing” on the Internet (www.omegatiming.com) for the 2000 European Swimming Championships. Race results were posted 15 seconds after the winner hit the touchpad and a PDF printout was made available 55 seconds later.

2001 – On January 21 a long-term partnership agreement signed under which the Official Timekeeper was given responsibility not only for timekeeping and scoreboards but also for data processing and On Venue Results

2006 – At the Turin Winter Olympics, for the first time, Omega supplied 100 scoreboards for the 14 competition venues

2008 – In addition to serving as Official Timekeeper of the Beijing Olympic Games Omega is responsible for data handling services and for On Venue Results (OVR) at the 37 competition venues in Beijing and six co-host cities of Qingdao (Sailing), Hong Kong (Equestrian) and the four football cities of Shanghai, Tianjin, Shenyang and Qinhuangdao. Omega will deploy more than 450 professional timekeepers and data processing experts to provide the official results from nearly 400 events in 28 different sports at 37 venues.