The Medal Makers

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Episodes

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2008070420150119 (BBC7)
20150120 (BBC7)

llison Curbishley explores the silent but crucial presence of judges at sporting events.

Former Olympic athlete Allison Curbishley explores the secret world of the judges at major sporting events.

In the build-up to Beijing 2008, she talks to some of the men and women from the UK who are off to China to officiate at athletic, equestrian and aquatic competitions. Most are volunteers, they all feel passionate about their sport and put as much effort into judging schoolchildren as they do world champions.

Allison finds out what it's like to be one of these watchful and discreet figures whose rulings can decide medal places and asks whether they get as nervous before big competitions as the sportsmen and women they are scrutinizing. What does it feel like to be the person who measures the jump that wins the gold?

Allison also learns about the technology that has changed their lives, the pinpoint accuracy of the photo finish, the sensitivity of the computers used to identify a false start and why, despite all these advances, there's no replacement for the naked eye.