3 April 2017
The 14th annual British Athletics Officials Conference took place this weekend with over 250 technical officials from across the UK attending the event at the Chesford Grange Hotel in Kenilworth.
The conference comes at the start of a busy summer of athletics, with many of the delegates preparing to officiate at the IAAF World Championships or World Para Athletics Championships in London.
The day was focussed around the theme of ‘Broaden Your Horizons’, encouraging officials to think outside of their discipline and adapt a more holistic view of athletics. It was a message emphasised by guest speakers Robbie Grabarz, the 2012 Olympic high jump medallist, and 2000 Olympic 400m medallist turned presenter Katharine Merry.
The day started with a welcoming address from Merry, who told the officials that they all have skills that can help them broaden their horizons; patience, organisation and communication.
The first keynote speech came from Chris Cohen, who is a technical official with vast experience, including as Secretary of Jury Appeal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. His current role is as Head of Competition for London 2017, overseeing all aspects of competition for both the World Para Athletics Championships and IAAF World Championships this summer.
Cohen provided an update on behalf of London 2017 and built on the subject of broadening horizons, explaining how this has been applicable in his many years as an official.
Grabarz then delivered his keynote speech, which highlighted his experiences as an athlete and linked it to similar challenges in officiating. He also spoke about how he’s had to broaden his horizons in his own career and challenged the delegates to do the same.
Grabarz said: “As a kid I jumped for fun, after clearing two metres I didn’t know where to go next. I never thought I would jump 2.30m, I’m just a kid from a non-sports family; I’m not that special.”
A number of awards were presented to acknowledge the service and achievement of various officials throughout the last year.
Three officials were honoured for a remarkable 40 years of service to the sport, with awards being presented to Andrew Clatworthy, David Vidler and Finlay Galloway.
Lucy Rogers was announced as the Young Official of the Year, Arwel Williams the Officials’ Official of the Year and Gordon Staines was named as the Inspirational Official of the Year.
The prestigious David Littlewood Award was the last to be made and was presented to Chloe Williams. The award is dedicated to the memory of renowned official and volunteer David Littlewood who sadly passed away in 2014, and recognises an official under the age of 35 who has shown great promise in the sport.
A total of 18 workshops were delivered across the course of the day, covering all disciplines of athletics as well as putting an emphasis on personal development, with workshops covering topics such as decision making, conflict management and effective communication.
British Athletics Officials Manager Paula Gowing believes the conference was a big success.
She said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for our technical officials to get together for a networking and development event, but also to recognise the successes of the last year. I’m delighted that so many officials were able to attend and I’m sure they’ll have taken a lot from the day.
“We’re very thankful to Robbie Grabarz, Katharine Merry and Chris Cohen for taking the time to come and speak at the conference. Their words were very well received and offer some great food for thought.”
For more information about becoming an official visit: http://www.britishathletics.org.uk/competitions/officials/