An alternative way to Tokyo

By Tony Ward

It is the ambition of many Technical Swimming Officials to be involved in a major competition. Many see this as the National Championships where they’ll see some of the worlds best athletes competing for a title or aiming to get into the international team.

Sometimes you get “lucky” and officiate at a higher level and strangely enough, the harder you work and the more knowledge you have of the rules, the luckier you get!

I started my journey in early 1970s when I became a timekeeper. I have since taken a number of qualifications, specialising in Para Swimming. Now I find myself in the World Para Swimming Core Group of officials consisting of the top 25 Para Officials in the World.

It was always said you only do one major Games – such as the Olympics or Paralympics – once in a lifetime. My luck has extended this to four Games spanning 13 years.

In 2018 I was selected for the Tokyo Paralympics as Assistant Technical Delegate by World Para Swimming (WPS). For those not familiar with this role, it is a position working with the Technical Delegate (TD) who is appointed to oversee all technical matters, including the set up and conduct of the competition, and ensures the WPS Rules and Regulations are upheld.

Alongside the TD role, I have been involved in all aspects of the organisation of Tokyo Paralympics 2020. Yes, it’s still called Tokyo 2020. The postponement of the event to 2021 has brought in many other challenges, from Athletes arrival in the Paralympic Village to COVID-safe Victory Ceremonies.

From being a simple swimming official, I’m now involved in:

  • Officials’ Training and selection
  • The programme of events and their viability 
  • Minute-by-minute timeline to inform Broadcast’s Worldwide coverage
  • Callroom sizes
  • Athletes flows around the building (COVID friendly)
  • Number of accessible toilets
  • Athletes spectating area estimating number of wheelchairs, 
  • Swimming Pool water circulation, Turbulence Test, Water Treatment, 
  • Victory Ceremonies, 
  • Camera Positioning, 
  • Equipment lists from extension leads to Starting Blocks
  • Transport from Village to venue – not an easy task with accessible transport.
  • Team Leaders Guide
  • Games Officials Guide

The list goes on and this is before we get to the start of the competition itself!

It’s been challenging, frustrating, demanding, but most of all fun. I’m so proud to be involved with an excellent team who I’m sure will deliver golden opportunities for athletes.

On behalf of Black Country n Potteries Masters, we wish you all the best for a successful Games Tony!

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