The women's 20km race walk at the Rio Olympics - electronic systems are on the way ©Getty Images

An electronic detection system project to create a definitive judging system for race walking events in time for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) 2019 World Championships has now moved to the design stage, the IAAF Council heard on the first of their two days of meetings here.

Contracts have been signed to construct two pre-industrial demonstration prototypes featuring shoe insoles with sensors to detect loss of contact by race walkers.

Walkers must have one foot in contact with the ground at all times. 

Any failures to do so are currently detected by race walking judges and sanctioned with an escalation of punishments culminating in disqualification when three different judges call a foul on a competitor.

One of the prototypes will be used in training and another for competition, with the timeline of the project being 18 months.

The results of this project will then be considered by the Race Walking Committee in order to draw-up a rule change proposal which would then need to be considered by the Technical Committee and approved by Council.

The goal is to be able to trial a system in competitions ahead of the 2019 IAAF World Championships.

Action from the men's 50km race walking at the 2013 IAAF World Championships. Judging of
Action from the men's 50km race walking at the 2013 IAAF World Championships. Judging of "lifting" could employ electronics within two years ©Getty Images

On a day of deliberations which began with the award of the 2018 IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships to the Chinese city of Taicang in place of the originally proposed Russian hosts of Cheboksary, walking remained the main focus of the IAAF Council’s opening day of deliberations.

It approved the criteria for the women’s 50 kilometre race walk to become an official world record event, thus bringing athletics one step closer to complete gender equality across all its disciplines.

From January 1 next year the IAAF will accept the first performances equal to or less than 4 hours 30min as having fulfilled all conditions for the inaugural women’s 50km race walk world record.

The innovations are taking place within a discipline which is featuring athletes moving at ever-increasing speeds, sometimes with speeds of more than four steps per second.

Meanwhile, the approved entry standards for next year’s IAAF World Championships in London have been published.

Marks for the men’s 100 and 200 metres will be 10.12sec and 20.44 respectively, while the equivalents for women will be 11.26 and 23.10.

The marks for the high jump - 2.30 metres for men and 1.94m for women - may raise some eyebrows.