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On Your Marks, Set…..How Athletics Would Suffer Without The Volunteer To Provide The Bang

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13/02/2019 00:00, In Blog /

Athletics would not exist without the army of dedicated officials who time every race or measure every jump and throw, writes Owen Morgan for Dai Sport. 

As volunteer official Richard Jenkins said at the recent Welsh Indoor Athletics Championship in Cardiff: “I’m here to allow athletes to achieve what they want to achieve in their dreams. 

“If I’m not there, they’re not going to be able to do it. You can have as many coaches as you like coaching the athletes, but unless you’ve got officials at the meeting, it’s a waste of time.”

The event, held at Cardiff’s National Indoor Athletics Centre, featured the extra logistical challenge of incorporating a combined events international match. As well as accommodating the needs of all the athletes, the officials also had to cater for the extra requirements of broadcasters and media, who also needed access to the track and field areas.

The man tasked with meeting some of those challenges was the volunteer tech manager for the two-day event, Chris Price.

An IT manager by day, Chris spends a large proportion of his weekends and evenings travelling up and down Wales and further afield helping ensure athletes have everything they need to perform at the very highest level they can in competitions.

In between precisely laying out hurdles on the track and setting up long jump measuring equipment, Price took five minutes out of his hectic day to explain his duties and why he loves carrying them out. 

“When you’re filling in as tech manager it’s a higher level of responsibility associated with delivering the event,” he said.

“You make sure that everything competition-wise is in place. Today is a level up again with the British Athletics involvement in the combined events international. It’s added that little bit extra in terms of the duties tech managers do within Wales normally.

“It can be a little stressful at times, especially in my case this weekend. On Friday morning I was in work and then came down to set up on Friday afternoon. On Friday evening I was here until 10pm. 

“I was here again at 8am on Saturday morning and we were the last to leave last night at around 7.30pm, trying to get things in place ready for this morning when we were here at 8am.

“Then, of course, we’re here again this evening until we finish. While other officials may finish their events and manage to get away, we will still be here for the tear down. So it’s a little bit extra on this one but I enjoy it.”

Enjoying it is the key factor for Chris, who got involved in officiating after his children started to compete in athletics.

“If I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t do it,” he says. ” I’m a volunteer at the end of the day. I never really had the background in athletics. The only athletics involvement I ever had was doing the cross country in school. I was OK at that but I never really took it on any further.

To read the full article on Dai Sport's wesbite, click here