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Sensors 2013, 13(12), 16065-16074; doi:10.3390/s131216065
Article

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

1,* , 2
, 2
 and 3,4
1 Faculty of Engineering, Health, Science and Environment, Charles Darwin University, Darwin NT 0909, Australia 2 Faculty of Science, Health, Education and Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, QLD 4558, Australia 3 Centre for Wireless Monitoring and Applications, Griffith University, Nathan, QLD 4122, Australia 4 Centre of Excellence for Applied Sports Science Research, Queensland Academy of Sport, Queensland Sports and Athletics Centre Nathan Queensland 4111, Australia
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 October 2013 / Revised: 5 November 2013 / Accepted: 18 November 2013 / Published: 26 November 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wearable Gait Sensors)
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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.
Keywords: athletics; gait; inertial sensor; Olympics; step athletics; gait; inertial sensor; Olympics; step
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Lee, J.B.; Mellifont, R.B.; Burkett, B.J.; James, D.A. Detection of Illegal Race Walking: A Tool to Assist Coaching and Judging. Sensors 2013, 13, 16065-16074.

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