It’s Official!

The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC) has announced a team of over 200 technical officials to deliver athletics at Carrarra Stadium next April.

Of the 14 technical officials appointed from the ACT, we are proud to say that 3 are from our Club!

Congratulations to Raelene Pryor and Janice Clarke who have been appointed as field judges and to Andrew Pryor who has been appointed as a track umpire.

Raelene, Andrew and Janice are all founding members of our Club and Committee members.  We caught up with them recently to ask them about life as an Official.

When did you first start officiating?

Raelene: It all began at Woden Little Athletics Club (WLAC). Officiating came from just helping out in the age groups and then judging local carnivals. I gained my accreditation with Athletics Australia in 2013, in the lead up to the Australian Little Athletics Championships (ALAC) in Canberra.

Andrew: Like Raelene, I got involved when our daughter was in U6s at WLAC in 2006. I was handed a rake and pretty soon I was helping out every Saturday morning.  Over time I became more comfortable assisting at WLAC and then ACT competitions. I became an accredited track official in 2013.

Janice: My daughter joined WLAC in 2008 and I ended up taking on the job of Age Manager for her group. That progressed into volunteering at Little Athletics Carnivals and and then at Athletics ACT meets. I became accredited as an official in 2011, firstly in throws and then jumps. I gained a track qualification later on but I really don’t use it – I much prefer to be in the field!

Why did you become an official?

Raelene: I wanted to be among the athletes and help them to have a professional and enjoyable experience when competing. Being a teacher you always have a passion to direct and support. So when I heard through WLAC about an officiating course, I JUMPED at the opportunity and THREW myself right into it.

Andrew: Having children involved in Little Athletics, you just pitch in and help. After overcoming my initial fear, I came to really enjoy being an official! ALAC in Canberra in 2013 was the impetus for me to be trained as an official to qualify as Chief Umpire for that event. Every one has been so helpful along the journey.

Janice: Like many parents, I wasn’t sure of the rules for the events at Little Athletics and wanted to learn more so I could better support my daughter and the other athletes. When my daughter started competing at senior athletics, I helped out at her events. We were encouraged by the officials to think about gaining our qualifications so in 2011, my daughter and I did just that! She has since moved interstate to study so hasn’t continued to officiate but I have remained involved and thoroughly enjoy it!

What do you enjoy most about being an official?

Andrew: Importantly, I love the sport. I also value the camaraderie of the officials team, being close to amazing performances, the satisfaction that comes with being part of a successful meet, and traveling with Raelene and my friends around the country!

Janice: Being an official really is the best seat in the house! You get to be close to the action and see some of the best athletes in the world compete. I love the elation when athletes set a record or achieve a personal best and I feel their disappointments. The grin on a junior athlete’s face when they master a skill or improve on a performance always makes me smile. Our Officials in the ACT are great to work with – very friendly and supportive and happy to help. I have learned so much from them.

Raelene: Being among the athletes and immersed in their celebrations and/or disappointments to offer encouragement – whether it be a high 5 or words of sympathy.

Do you have any favourite events?

Janice: I marvel at the power it takes to throw the Hammer and I love to watch the flight of the Javelin but I particularly enjoy officiating the Pole Vault. You work as a small team where communication is paramount, especially when you’re in front of a large crowd. It takes courage for an athlete to propel themselves metres into the air on a bendy pole hoping to land safely on the other side!

Raelene: If I had to choose it would probably be throws. I love the challenge of setup and the operation of the EDM. Being in the sector for discus and javelin is my worst nightmare. Of course I’m gonna run!

Andrew: I love the events where the track team gets to work closely together, especially relays and lap scoring distance races. As a spectator, I love watching the tactics of middle distance racing.

What has been the highlight of your experience so far?

Andrew: A highlight would have to be when I was Track Referee at Nitro Athletics earlier this year. Officiating is a lot of fun and I am very grateful for the opportunities the sport has given me!

Raelene: Officiating para-athletes always warms my heart!!! They blow me away with their attitude, camaraderie, courage, patience (especially setting up their seated throws), and just their pure love to compete and achieve PB’s. And no one can forget NITRO!!! So blessed to be part of it and celebrate with incredible athletes from all around the world, their passion.

Janice: One highlight would be officiating the IPC Grand Prix as the Chief Judge of long jump. It was a great experience having international and Australian para-athletes of different classifications competing. With the vision-impaired athletes the crowd must be quiet so the athletes can hear their guides calling them down the runway. It was a bit eerie having all the noise of events and spectators in the stands going on and then next moment there’s a hush.…. The trust between athlete and guide is amazing!

We wish Andrew, Raelene and Janice all the very best for the Commonwealth Games. No doubt the Games will add many more highlights to their life as an Official!