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Dave Jessett

My involvement in athletics started as a 13 year old in Barry Boys Comprehensive, where I competed in cross-country, road running and middle distance on the track. At that time the school had a wealth of very good distance runners, including Andrew Ireland and Mick McGeoch. We also formed the core of Barry Harriers, a club I was honoured to captain. Andrew and I continued to compete together when we both attended Caerleon College of Education, where we were joined by another great of Welsh distance running, Andrew Darby, and where Lynette Harries and Avril Williams were two of my tutors.

While dabbling in a number of other activities athletics remained my primary sport, which I continued to be involved in when I moved out of Wales to pursue my career as a physical education teacher. While working in England I captained Wycombe Phoenix Harriers, in Buckinghamshire, and competed for Mandale Harriers in the North East. Before moving back to Wales to take up a teaching job in Swansea.

It was in Swansea that I saw a newspaper article advertising courses for people who wanted to become athletics officials. Thinking that this qualification would benefit my teaching I enrolled and underwent, what was then the grade 4 (now Level 1) Field course, delivered by Colin Davies. Despite having a running background I decided to take the Field course, rather than Track, as I felt that this would suit my ‘precise’ nature. Having passed the exam, yes in those days you sat an exam to qualify, I undertook the requisite number of competition practical experiences. This is when I discovered that, rather than just being a means of acquiring a relevant qualification for my job, that this was something I really enjoyed. I was then determined to not only pursue officiating but to progress as far as I could.

Having progressed through the grades/levels to reach the highest domestic level, in 2013 I was appointed to the ITO (International Technical Official) panels of both European Athletics and World Para Athletics. Consequence I have been fortunate to have officiated at a number of high profile competitions at home and abroad. Home appointments include the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the European Para Championships in Swansea, as well as the 2017 IAAF and World Para Athletics World Championships, World and European Indoor Championships. My overseas appointments have included being the Technical Delegate at three European Para Championships, the Asian Para Games, the WPA World Junior and Senior Championships and the 2020 (now 2021) Tokyo Paralympic Games.

Although retired from teaching my education background continues to be utilised as a member of the UK Athletics Officials Education and Training Sub Group, as well as being a Level 1 Field, Level 4 and CMA (Competition Management Award) tutor for UKA and have recently become a WPA Officials tutor, which will involve delivering courses anywhere in the world.

What started as a means of enhancing my teaching credentials has become a new full time, although unpaid, career. It is demanding, often stressful, deeply rewarding and fulfilling and I love it.