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Time-of-flight machines make Olympic trampoline debut

Jason Burnett of Canada competes in the men's trampoline competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 19, 2008.

© Hans Deryk / Reuters/REUTERS

For the first time in Olympic competition, 'time-of-flight machines' will be used to measure how long trampolinists spend in the air, and that calculation will be factored into the scoring.

Within the North Greenwich Arena, they just did a video to show the time of flight machine. It's a tiny piece of electronics that is fastened to the bottom of the trampoline. It's so much smaller than I would have imagined. That machine has a laser sensor that will measure how long the time period is between contacts with the trampoline bed. Therefore, the athlete can be scored on how long he or she spends in the air.

The more time an athlete spends in the air, the longer he has to execute tricks. The trampolinists' total score at these Games will be make up of a score for Difficulty, one for Execution, one for Time of Flight, and then penalties, if any, will be deducted.

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The time-of-flight machines were introduced last year so trampolinists could get used to them in international competitions before the Games. This Olympics will start to illustrate how much that change of scoring alters the sport. Canadian coach Dave Ross told me we may see a shift in the optimal body types that tend to excel in the sport. Wait and see.

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Sports reporter

Based in Toronto, Rachel Brady writes on a number of sports for The Globe and Mail, including football, tennis and women's hockey. More

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