Thursday, 13 November 2008

Judging the Olympics |1

We've all followed the highs and lows of the sailors at the Olympic Games in Qingdao. From the spectacular 49er medal race to the clearing of the algae on the waters by local fishermen.

At the Olympics all eyes are focused on the sailors and rightly so. But to make sure that all rules are adhered to, there's a group of International Judges from all over the world who form the Olympic Jury. I send them a questionnaire to ask them about their experience doing that.

In the next couple of weeks I will be posting the answers I received.

The first one who replied was Pat Healy from Annapolis, USA. He has not only been to Olympic Games as a Judge, but in past years also as a coach.

Here are his answers to my questions:


Q1-- How long where you an International Judge before you were invited to go to an Olympic Event? Perhaps you can tell something about your experiences and what you think is needed to be an International Technical Official?

A1-- 10 yrs - first Olympics as an official (2000), 18 yrs - second Olympics (2008).

During the past four years: 9-Grade 1 Events, 6-World or Continental Championships of Olympic classes, 12-Other Olympic class events with rule 42 and/or Addendum Q. Also, four Olympics as a coach and 32 years as a professional coach.

Q2-- Can you tell us about the differences between any Grade 1 event and the Olympic competition, from a Judges point of view?

A2-- Grade 1 Events are more fun. At the Olympics everyone is under pressure: competitors, coaches, team leaders, technical officials, volunteers and judges. Everyone wants to do a good job but feels the stress. Solving problem takes more time then usual and the first answer is usually no, then you start to negotiate. The Olympic regatta is a big adventure but not a lot of fun.

Q3-- In "normal" International events CAS does not get involved, but it has in the last two Olympics. Does it change the way you do a protest hearing?

A3-- CAS has added 50% to jury work time to ensure every "i" is dotted and "t" crossed. So far the only way a "non-appealable" decision can be overturned by CAS or other sport arbitrator is if the procedures required by the rules are not followed.

Q4-- The Olympic Sailing event is the most filmed and photographed event of all. What is the influence of that on your work?

A4-- For me there is no on-the-water influence. You are so focused on what is happened that you forget that a camera may be looking over your shoulder. Hearings are longer because there is more evidence available.

Q5-- What did you enjoyed the most about the Olympics and what disappointed you?

A5-- Enjoy most - working with some of the most experienced judges in the world. The problems are harder but solutions come easier to this jury.

Enjoy the least - the number of "zero-chance" requests for redress. Although I understand the psychological need for a competitor to leave the Olympics feeling that no stone was left unturned, most of the requests for redress are for claims that the party knows have no chance to succeed.

Q6-- Do you want to do the next Olympic in 2012?

A6-- If asked absolutely, but most likely I will not be asked. There are many fine judges from my country who can do as good or better job than me. Sailing is better off with a large group of judges who have been given the Olympic responsibility and made the effort to do it correctly and wisely.

Q7-- Anything else about this Olympics you might want to share with readers of my blog?

A7-- For an aspiring judge, the easiest way is to be considered "good enough" to be considered for the Olympic jury is to (1) have lots of experience judging dinghy events so as to be seen as very knowledgeable on rule 42, and (2) race a dinghy. Selecting judges with recent, racing experience for the Olympic jury is very hard to achieve and will allow you to stand out among those being considered.

Next week Sofia Truchanowicz from Poland, one of the youngest IJ's. This was her first Olympics, but I'm sure it will not be her last....



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