It’s hard to believe that the Olympics are almost at the end. After 5 years of waiting, Tokyo really did happen, and for one of our ever-green Technical Officials, it was an event like no other.
Trevor Spittle is a member of the World Athletics, International Technical Officials’ Panels – one of five Oceania Officials: Zoe Bryson-Eastwood, Peter Hamilton, Helen Roberts, Brian Roe, who are joined in Tokyo by Janet Nixon, who is a member of the International Photo-finish Panel. You might think that 2 weeks at the Olympics is enough, but not for Trevor – this is just the beginning. As the curtain falls on the Olympic Track and Field competition, Trevor will head back to Christchurch on Saturday night to enjoy two weeks of Quarantine. Following that, he will spend four days at home before heading back to Japan for the Paralympic Games.
“This has been an opportunity of a lifetime, very different from any other games I’ve been to – but one I wouldn’t have missed – I am humbled by the experience”.
Trevor’s first significant event was Sydney in 2000. No other Olympics until now, but many World Championships and Commonwealth Games. Not a bad CV!!!! In addition, he also officiated at the Rio Paralympics and Para World Championships 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019.
“I’m heading back to Christchurch on Saturday before the end of the track and field where I will have 2 weeks in quarantine before spending 4 days with my family and enjoying my wedding anniversary”.
“Then it is back to Tokyo for the Paralympics where I will be a Referee with my New Zealand colleague Ruth Liong who will be one of the Competition Directors.”
For fewer than 4 million people, New Zealand is well and truly represented in the world of Athletics Technical Officials; very few countries of this size would have one international judge, let alone two.
Trevor was asked how does this happen? “Athletics New Zealand conducts several high-quality competitions which allow our athletes and technical officials to be involved at the highest level. In the Oceania Area, the opportunities are endless for our Technical Officials. We use the Oceania events to officiate, but equally to see our beautiful region. I have had the chance to visit more than half of the Oceania Federations, and this, in turn, gives us educational opportunities with our Pacific Island Federations officials”.
Back to Tokyo and a day in Trevor’s life…..
I wake up in my small hotel room, looking out to the Olympic Stadium – less than a 100-metre walk to the security entrance.
At breakfast, temperature taken, sterilise hands, given plastic gloves to self-serve food, then sit at the table with a screen in front of you. Can sit by self or with max 2 others.
Go to the track, temperature taken, drop off Covid check sample, use the ID to clear security, bag check.
When we go back to the hotel, sterilise our hands, take a temperature.
In the morning, must-do health check online, and if not done, get a reminder by midday.
We asked Trevor what his best and worst moments were!
“The men’s shot put qualifying round was certainly one I will remember forever. As an official, you are completely impartial. There can be no bias, so when you make decisions, and your own Federation is involved, you have to respect that impartiality and don’t let it impair your decision. New Zealand shot putter Tom Walsh was involved in 3 questionable decisions regarding foot fouls. I had to make the decision without looking at the colour of the athlete’s singlet – to me, it was simple, the athlete’s attempts were not being judged correctly, and I needed to rectify the decision. I did this by referring the attempt to the Video Referee, who reviewed and declared it valid. I was then able to overrule the decision and insert the distance.”
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work on several different events at these Olympics.
“As the Referee on the event, I have been watching the circle, so do not see the performance – my only chance to see the performance is via the big screen, which shows the distance”.
This is different from the jumps where you see the performance as the athlete either jumps or exits the pit. I really enjoyed working on the Pole Vault, High and Long jump.”
Trevor comments that “Often the unsung heroes at an event, the call room was extremely efficient and was able to process any group in less than the 10 minutes allowed.”
For every person on the track and field, so many others behind the scenes make this event a success. Fron transport, media, to just general administration – every person has ensured that the Olympics have been an incredible success that they are!
Spittle finished by adding, “I would like to personally thank the people of Japan, World Athletics and the IOC for making this Olympics one to remember.”
Before heading back to New Zealand, Trevor will be required to obtain an online certificate to enable him to fly and re-enter New Zealand and go into Quarantine, where you must also be booked. All customs in and out data must be loaded onto your phone. So if you don’t have a smartphone, you are in trouble as you also have to have an ‘app’ on your phone, which is blue-tooths to all contacts.