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UK Athletics Officials’ Conference – report

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Darren Campbell and Alan Bell

UK Athletics Chairman Ed Warner welcomed a record number of over 200 delegates, representing all four Home Nations and all areas of the sport, to the annual UK Athletics Officials conference at the National Motorcycle Museum, Solihull on Sunday 15 April.

 

He spoke warmly about the dedication of volunteer officials, thanked them for the time they give so freely for their love of athletics, emphasised the essential role they perform as part of the UKA team – and confirmed the national governing body’s commitment to officials to provide training, education, recognition, recruitment and involvement.

 

Guest speaker Darren Campbell, who won Olympic sprint medals both as an individual and relay runner, was enthusiastically welcomed by the delegates, who heard how much he felt he owed to officials.

 

Campbell recalled that he felt he could always share a laugh and a joke with officials and be sure of a friendly face. He felt that throughout his career officials had played a significant part in keeping him relaxed before major races.

 

“Athletics is a family,” he added, “and the UK officials we have in that family are the best in the world.”

 

The conference focussed on the structure of the sport, officiating at disability events, officials’ education and training, mentoring and assessment, and comparative officiating.

 

Four officials received bottles of Heidsieck & Co Monopole champagne in recognition of their outstanding performances at the recent European Indoor Championships in Birmingham.

 

The event was described by the European Athletics Association as the “best ever” and, announcing the awards, UKA Technical Committee Chair Alan Bell emphasised that all 300 volunteers and technical officials had played a vital part in making the Championships such a success.

 

These four people had been nominated for their awards because of the special manner in which they had performed their duties:

 

Wendy Haxell from Waterlooville, Hampshire, was Call Room Manager and Referee. One of the UK’s best known track referees, she was asked to take on a new and unknown role at the European Indoors. With no real template to follow, she organised her team to deliver a superb service to all of the competitors.

 

Andrew Hulse, from Stourbridge in the West Midlands had never worked on a meeting of this level before but was keen to be part of something that would be special to both the sport and the City of Birmingham. In his role as an athlete steward, he worked tirelessly, addressing all of the tasks he was given with energy and commonsense.

 

Shona Malcolm, from Falkirk in Scotland, who was leader of the athlete stewards. She is usually a field official providing a terrific service to international athletes at the major domestic meetings, but at the European Indoors she was appointed to ‘uncharted waters’. With a very inexperienced team, she fashioned a system shepherding competitors to their areas of competition that was efficient, athlete-friendly, yet anonymous.

 

Sue McKiernan from Sheffield, set up and managed the Technical Information Centre, and provided an outstanding service in answering the plethora of enquiries and questions posed by coaches, athletes, team officials and others. She is a very experienced official having worked at a number of major events in the UK and overseas, and was for many years a major player on the International Paralympic Committee.

 

Pictured: Darren Campbell with Alan Bell.