This week in our series on Olympic Judges, the answers I received from
Bill O'Hara. If you have attended any grade 1 in the last couple of years you must have met him. He's the judge who gave lectures and talks to sailors, coaches and judges on the rule 42 interpretations and helped others to get to a consistent (legal) level.
Here's what Bill answered to the questions:
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?
I got invited to my first Olympic event three years after becoming a judge. I think I got my chance early because I had already attended 4 Olympics in various capacities ,so although in Athens I was short on judging experience compared to many members of the jury I had plenty of Olympic experience. In Athens I was on the laser course and I remember feeling that although nervous I felt well prepared for it . I think the most important thing for an international Technical Official is to keep active and do as many grade 1 events and continental championships they can before the games. It improves your skills and knowledge and it gives the sailors confidence because you are a familiar face and they know what to expect from you.
Can you tell us about the differences between any Grade 1 event and the Olympic competition, from a Judges point of view
You are more resourced at the Olympics; its more important not to make a mistake; and you don't get to speak to the sailors and coaches.
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?
CAS do get involved in normal events. The exception at the Olympics is that their is a standing CAS panel so its easier for teams to access. In the professional era appeals to higher authorities are more likely so its important not to take shortcuts and follow hearing procedures precisely.
The Olympic Sailing event is the most filmed and photographed event of all. What is the influence of that on your work?
The big difference for me was that I took my hat off when the Helicopters were overhead so that my kids would recognize me if they were watching the TV. Seriously it was a great help in hearings to have good quality video footage to consider.
What did you enjoyed the most about the Olympics and what disappointed you?
It was great working in a team who all took collective responsibility and didn't try to avoid difficult decisions. It is difficult to articulate how hard the Chinese worked to make the event a success and I can honestly say I wasn't disappointed in any way.
Do you want to do the next Olympic in 2012?
Yes. Its a responsibility and an honor to be at the Olympics and I am going to work hard for the next four years to give myself a chance to be selected.
Anything else about this Olympics you might want to share with readers of my blog?
I think all judges who want to go to the games should consider becoming umpires as more and more of the top events expect both skill sets.