By Kelly Bennett-Allan
After passing the selection criteria, I was very honoured to be put forward to the International Triathlon Union (ITU) for a Technical Official (TO) role at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, and to have my selection approved by the ITU.
I was one of only ten Australian TO’s to be selected the others being Frank Stapleton, Jacqui Kenny, Lyndell Murray, Gai Webster, Michael Wise, Cathy Hoare, Shane Burnett, Aaron Broughton, and Michael Haarsma.
Along with another 23 TO’s from various Commonwealth countries, our Technical Director (TD) Shanelle Barrett, ITU Team leaders: Thanos Nikopoulos and Kris Gemmell, we all made up the very senior and experienced triathlon technical team for the Games.
We all arrived from various parts of the world (Wisey, Lyndell, Jacqui and I had a horrendous journey as you can imagine, all the way from Brisbane!) to our very comfortable accommodation, the SeaWorld Resort, on Sunday 1st April. We were greeted by our TO liaison Karen Matthews from GOLDOC. She said that Triathlon officials were the best officials because we were so easy to look after and were always where we were meant to be on time if not early!
The other person who looked after us was our amazing CRO Lyndell Murray who went above and beyond to ensure we all had the equipment we needed to fulfill our roles, including making sure we had something to eat, drink and were slapping on sunscreen especially for our northern hemisphere TO’s who were only just coming out of a very cold winter.
After checking into our rooms, we met our roomies, mine was the lovely Maisie Bancewicz from Scotland, Glasgow to be exact. After having lived in the UK for some time I had no problem with her Glaswegian accent. We got on like a house on fire and after the first night it felt like we had known each other for ages.
All the TO’s were very kindly given tickets to the opening ceremony which was a fantastic parade and show of the athletes, a very fitting and enjoyable start to the games. However, we did leave a little bit early due to a 4.30am start the next day! Ahh.. the life of a TO!
The first events, the women’s and men’s elite races were scheduled for the Thursday 5th April and the Para tri and mixed team relay were scheduled for the Saturday 7th April. It seemed like a lot of time until the races but as we found out we were to have a full-dress rehearsal with volunteers acting as the athletes, the day before each race day, complete with as many interesting and testing scenarios as they could throw at us!!
The days were very long especially for those of us who were on the Rego/Bike Check/Technology team who also had to go to Griffith University in the evening for the Athletes briefings before the race days. These dress rehearsals made the actual races seem easy as they went very smoothly.
I had not expected to be given a chief’s role at the Games, but I was very excited to be given the role of Chief Technology. I had this role at the test event last year by my next thought was, what exactly does that role involve at this level? After talking to our TD Shanelle Barrett, she told me it’s like a normal ITU race, but on steroids. I was very appreciative when she said she had confidence I could handle it.
Some of the main responsibilities were to liaise with the ITU live coverage team and work with the event timers in this case, Longines/Swiss timing. I also checked the location and placement of timing points on the course and the finish line photo finish camera.
One of my most important jobs was to ensure the results and formats generated for the event met with those agreed in the CRIS document (Commonwealth Games Results and Information Service), my bible for the games. It was amazing how much information was generated.
The role was quite varied and involved and I worked closely with Thanos to ensure the results were available for the ITU and the Head Referees to sign off, after the finish.
It was amazing to be a part of the first truly integrated games with the para tri athletes competing at the same competition as all the other athletes. To see all these athletes, give everything for their sport and country was inspirational.
What I will remember most was the camaraderie and friendship of a group of TO’s from all parts of our country and the world who came together to deliver a very successful triathlon event that looked spectacular on TV. It was hard work and we all learned a lot and had a lot of fun along the way.
It was also wonderful to see so many familiar volunteer faces around the FOP too, mostly TO’s and Ironman staff doing a magnificent job as Games Shapers.
I would also like to take this opportunity on behalf of the Aussie TO’s to thank Triathlon Australia, especially the TORC, Lukas Matys, Miles Stewart and Peter Hedge for arranging to have an ITU CTO course in Brisbane last year, so that we were able to field our largest number of ITO’s and CTO’s ever, at an international event.
If you ever have the chance to put your name forward to be selected for such an event, do not hesitate, as it was a wonderful experience and one I will always remember.