"Current start-gun technology gives athletes on the inside lanes an unfair advantage right off the blocks.It's incredible that the competition has reached levels where the speed of sound may influence the outcome.
Sound from the starter's gun is known to take longer to reach athletes who start from the outside lanes than their competitors on the inside. Now a new study suggests that competitors nearest the gun have another advantage – the loudness of the bang shocks them into starting more quickly.
Together, these extra boosts may amount to more than a tenth of a second in some races, which is easily enough to make the difference between gold and silver.
It can take 150 milliseconds longer for sound to travel from the starter's gun to runners in the outside lanes in races such as the 4 x 100 metre relay, where the runners' starting positions are staggered.
At both the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the 2004 Athens games, runners in the outside lanes of relay races were slower out of the blocks than runners on inner lanes..."